UPDATED: January 24 2018, 14:02 MT

A public meeting will be organized for affected residents as the City of Yellowknife figures out how to clean up last week’s large sewage spill in Kam Lake.

A pressurized sewage pipe ruptured on the morning of Monday, January 15, near Ron’s Auto in Kam Lake. City workers spent the day trying to divert sewage from nearby properties until the break was eventually repaired at around 11pm that day.

The cause of the problem has yet to be determined. Between 1,000 and 2,000 cubic metres of sewage is estimated to have been released; by comparison, an Olympic swimming pool can hold around 2,500 cubic metres.

Now, the City must establish how to go about cleaning up the aftermath – including effluent that followed a drainage channel and ended up in Kam Lake itself. (Administrators say neighbouring Grace Lake is not affected as water flows from Grace Lake to Kam Lake.)

Frozen sewage

“Since the break occurred, the City has been consulting with GNWT – Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ensure all measures are properly taken to remove any negative impact the spill may have on Kam Lake,” read a statement released by the City on Tuesday afternoon.

Clean-up work has begun, with frozen blocks of effluent being transported to Yellowknife’s sewage lagoon. Heavy machinery will remove effluent from the surface of the lake itself while the ice remains strong enough to bear the load.

After that, tests will be carried out to decide whether more work is required or if disinfection using lime (the mineral, not the fruit) will take care of any lingering contaminants.

‘No lasting effects’

A public meeting to provide more details is promised by the City, with information on a date and venue to follow.

The City has published an online FAQ for any property owners who are affected. If you believe your property was impacted but you haven’t heard from anyone, you’re asked to call (867) 920-5637.

“The City takes all spills very seriously and will continue to work with other levels of government and Kam Lake property owners to ensure there are no lasting effects,” the statement quotes Mayor Mark Heyck as saying.

Updated January 24 2018, 14:02 MT to reflect a newly provided City estimate regarding the amount of sewage released during the break.