Arctic Wastewater Research

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region, North Slave Region

Tags: physical sciences, contaminants, hydrology, wetlands, wastewater treatment

Principal Investigator: Challen Urbanic, Jane (4)
Licence Number: 14556
Organization: Environment Canada
Licensed Year(s): 2012 2011 2010 2009
Issued: Jul 07, 2009
Project Team: Stephen Lee (Field Researcher, Environment Canada), Anne Wilson (Field Researcher, Environment Canada), Student (Field Researcher, Environment Canada)

Objective(s): The objective of this research is to assess the performance of lagoons and wetlands in the treatment of municipal wastewater in Canada's Arctic. A secondary objective is to determine the occurrence of trace contaminants in northern wastewaters.

Project Description: The objective of this research is to assess the performance of lagoons and wetlands in the treatment of municipal wastewater in Canada's Arctic. A secondary objective is to determine the occurrence of trace contaminants in northern wastewaters.

Samples will be taken from the influent (raw sewage) and effluent (treated wastewater) of each lagoon and wetland system in the communities where the researchers will be working at. Samples will be taken during the period of discharge at the lagoon or wetland. For lagoons that discharge continuously over the summer, samples will be taken at least twice (i.e. once in the spring, once in the fall). Samples will be taken over a period of three days for each session. Samples will be shipped to laboratories in Yellowknife and Edmonton for analysis of solids, organic matter, nutrients and metals. Samples will be shipped to Montreal, British Columbia and Burlington for analysis of trace contaminants. Operational data and design information will also be collected at each site. This includes, but is not limited to: pH, dissolved oxygen levels, solids build-up, volumetric flows, dimensions of the lagoons and wetlands, temperature, years in service, etc. Discussions with the Senior Administrative Officer and/or foreman and/or operator in each community will be requested to obtain some of this information and to request assistance with the sampling.

The community SAO will be contacted to introduce the project. Members of the project team will be available to answer questions and/or make a presentation to interested community members and Band Councils. A formal letter of introduction was sent to each community to outline the project and methodology and to request support. The community SAO and/or foreman and/or operator of the wastewater treatment system will be contacted to arrange a convenient time for sampling. The above will be invited to participate in the sampling.

For reporting purposes, communities will be identified only by a letter or number. Communities will receive the sampling results from their facility, and a copy of any scientific publications arising from this work. The researchers also anticipate making a presentation to update the local Band Council at the conclusion of the study. Over the course of the study, they will continue to provide updates and communicate with the SAO and/or the foreman and/or the operator of the wastewater facility.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 06 to October 30, 2009, at sewage lagoons and wetlands in Paulatuk, Deline, Fort Providence and Behchoko. Note: currently, funding is available to conduct research at two sites. Behchoko and Paulatuk are the two sites identified as priorities. If additional funding is available, research at the other sites will be undertaken.