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Project Goals

Community Objectives for Halifax Harbour Water Use

More than a decade ago, citizens living along the shores of Halifax Harbour indicated their dissatisfaction with the negative impacts untreated sewage and storm water discharge to the harbour had on the water quality. After a process of public consultation, the Halifax Harbour Task Force (HHTF) established criteria in 1990 that outline community objectives for using the harbour. The Halifax Harbour Solutions Project used those objectives when designing a sewage collection and treatment plan for the harbour.

The HHTF classifications are:

Map of Halifas Harbour Water Use Classifications. Click for detailed map.

Class SA has been applied to the Outer Harbour and defines uses as bathing and contact recreation, shellfish harvesting for direct human consumption and fish and wildlife habitat.

Class SB has been applied to the Middle Harbour, Northwest Arm and Bedford Basin. This classification defines uses as: recreation use, shellfish harvesting for human consumption after depuration (cleansing) and fish and wildlife habitat.

Class SC has been applied to the Inner Harbour and Narrows, and defines uses for boating and other secondary contact recreational activities (e.g. shoreline hiking), industrial cooling, good esthetics, and fish and wildlife habitat.

Residents can expect numerous benefits from a cleaner Halifax Harbour. Recreational usage of the harbour waters should increase dramatically as health risks associated with pathogens, (disease causing micro organisms) decrease due to treatment. Currently, unacceptable levels of bacteria can be found near beaches and sailing routes in the Inner Harbour, at the mouth and head of the Northwest Arm, at the mouth of the Sackville River and at Herring Cove.

Improving the esthetics of the harbour (i.e. the colour, the clarity and the smell of the water, removing the unsightly floating objects) will improve secondary recreational activities such as walking along the harbour boardwalks and in Point Pleasant Park.

Major tourism initiatives, such as Pier 21 and Historic Properties will present a cleaner, more pleasant aspect to visitors, furthering their enjoyment of the municipality.

Improved water quality will enhance the marine habitat bringing about a return of native marine life. Increased incidence of porpoises, dolphins, whales, seals and other marine life will draw visitors to the area and enhance residents’ enjoyment of the harbour. An enhanced marine habitat and growing marine life population will also enhance the commercial fishery.

Property values along the waterfront are expected to rise by as much as five per cent. Residents have much to look forward to.

Fecal Coliform (bacteria) Levels in the Halifax Harbour

Levels of bacterial in Halifax Harbour, 1991. Click to see full version.

Projected levels of bacteria in Halifax Harbour without sewage treatment. Click to view full version.  Projected levels of bacteria in Halifax Harbour with sewage treatment. Click to view full version.

Click on images to view full-size version, or view an animation.

The top figure shows the current (1991) situation in the harbour for Fecal Coliform (bacteria) levels. The bottom figures show bacteria levels projected for the year 2041 in the harbour, with and without the proposed advanced primary treatment / UV disinfection. The figure on the left shows that without treatment the inner harbour, the Northwest Arm, part of Bedford Basin, and the Herring Cove area, will become even more heavily contaminated with bacteria than they are now. On the right, the figure shows the corresponding pattern with treatment. All of the harbour would be well below the level acceptable for contact recreation such as swimming, which is 200 per 100ml. The harbour should attain this level very quickly once sewage treatment is in place.

(Note that a logarithm scale is used. The log of 200 is 2.3)

Images supplied by Coastal Oceans Associates Ltd.