Behchokǫ̀ sewage spill cost still unclear as source identified

Behchoko sewage lagoon
A decant structure leading to cell two of the Rae sewage lagoon was pictured in a November 2015 inspection report.

Community leaders in Behchokǫ̀ say the problem that triggered a million-litre spill of partially treated sewage last month has been identified, but the cost of repairs still isn’t clear.

Chief Clifford Daniels told Cabin Radio engineers found evidence of a gap between the structure of cell two at the Rae sewage lagoon and the bedrock.

“We think water got in there and eventually, when it got cold, it froze and the ice has separated the two. When it got warmer, the water broke through,” Chief Daniels said.

“We have engineers on it. They’re going to try to find a way to repair that. We’re temporarily using the Edzo lagoon, we’re trying to work around it.”



Engineers devised a plan to pump out remaining effluent, build a makeshift dam, then use dyed water to trace the original location of the leak. The spill on April 19 emptied the cell’s contents into the surrounding area.

The territorial government says the partly treated sewage was about six weeks away from being released into the environment anyway, as is standard practice.

“Samples taken of the wastewater released from the community’s lagoon suggest that it met the water licence limits,” read a statement from the territory.

“The GNWT continues to work with the community government of Behchokǫ̀ to address the spill and minimize any impacts on the environment.”

Daniels said he doesn’t yet know what the eventual repair bill will be. The community government holds responsibility for covering the cost.

“As soon as they work out how to repair that breach, that’s when we’ll start talking numbers. Right now, we’re not sure,” he said.