Safe to swim in Charlottetown Harbour on Wednesday after sewage washed out to sea, city says

·2 min read
Graeme Carr, middle, program co-ordinator for the junior sailing program at the Charlottetown Yacht Club, says they had to adjust their plans due to the water advisory. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Graeme Carr, middle, program co-ordinator for the junior sailing program at the Charlottetown Yacht Club, says they had to adjust their plans due to the water advisory. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Swimming and other water activities are expected to resume in Charlottetown Harbour on Wednesday, three days after 6,000 cubic metres of untreated sewage was discharged into the water.

The leak began Sunday when construction crews on Water Street hit a sewer pipe by mistake, sending enough sewage to fill 2½ Olympic sized swimming pools into the harbour.

The City of Charlottetown issued an advisory to avoid contact with the water, a warning some young sailors at the Charlottetown Yacht Club were happy to heed.

"They can tip their boats so they are directly in the water and that's our fear," said Graeme Carr, program co-ordinator for the junior sailing program.

"If they dump into the water the kids can be completely submerged and then pop back up again with the PFDs on of course and that's the thing we don't want to happen of course in this scenario."

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

The repair to the pipe was completed early Monday morning.

The city, in consultation with the province's health department, said it will lift the advisory as scheduled on Wednesday.

"Now the tide's coming and going and continuing to dilute any wastewater that was released into the harbour," said Richard MacEwen, manager of the Charlottetown Water and Sewer Utility.

"Generally, the harbour is very safe for swimming. We do a great job of treating the wastewater at the wastewater treatment plant. The water leaving the wastewater treatment plant meets swimming water quality guidelines. So it's unfortunate when we do have an incident like this, but they have become very rare in Charlottetown," said MacEwen.

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

The Navy Quay sewer station, near the yacht club, was one of two in the city that overflowed its emergency storage tank. It left 45 sailors in the junior sailing program training on land for the last two days.

"We're sailors at heart. We want to have these kids out sailing," Carr said.

"Any day off the water is unfortunately a lost day."

The discharge had no effect on commercial or recreational shellfish harvesting, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The commercial season ended July 15.

No charges have been laid, but the matter is under investigation.

The city said the discharge was unavoidable following the construction mishap. After all, it said, it could have been worse if all that raw sewage backed up into basements of Charlottetown homes.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting