Untreated sewage spills into LaPlanche River
Following equipment failure related to heavy rain
An estimated 25,000 cubic metres of untreated sewage made it into the LaPlanche River following an equipment malfunction that rendered all three pumps at Amherst’s LaPlanche River sewer lift station inoperable.
The malfunction on Aug. 19 was thought to be related to, but not entirely caused by, a heavy rainfall in the area that, according to the Weather Network, totalled about 65 millimetres.
Overflow situations do occur from time to time during heavy rainfalls, but on this occasion an air release valve broke allowing sewage to enter the lift station’s control room via openings around electrical conduits that go between the valve chamber and the control room. Once inside the control room, the sewage damaged electrical components that regulate the pumps, rendering them inoperable.
Before the pumps could be restarted, new electrical parts had to be acquired and the control building, located on the marsh north of the town, had to be cleaned and sanitized.
Repairs to one of the pumps was completed on Aug. 22, allowing the lift station to be brought back on line on that date. Repairs to the other two pumps were completed two days later.
It is estimated that about 8,200 cubic metres of sewage per day is pumped through this lift station to the waste-water treatment plant in Fort Lawrence.
Nova Scotia Environment was notified on Aug 20, shortly after the problem was discovered. The department was given regular updates as the town worked to resolve the issue.
“We’d like to thank the Public Works staff who have been working through very unpleasant conditions to clean the facility and make the repairs,” CAO Greg Herrett said.
Amherst’s $12-million sewage treatment plant opened in 2012 and removed the last of the sewage from the town entering the LaPlanche River.
Amherst worked since 1993 to remove all its sewage from Dickey Brook, Etters Brook and the LaPlanche River. The Terrace Street pumping station was built in 1995 while the LaPlanche River pumping station was built in 2003, removing 85 per cent of Amherst’s wastewater from the river.
It was at the Terrace Street pumping station where the equipment malfunction occurred.