“Under the Street:” Archaeology and the Harbour Interceptor Sewer Project.

Many of you are aware of the tremendous amount of excavation that has been occurring in downtown St. John’s since 2004.  This  is all related to the St. John’s Harbour Clean-Up.   Municipal wastewater from the City of St. John’s, the City of Mount Pearl and the Town of Paradise, with a  combined population of 130,000 people, was being discharged, untreated, into St. John’s Harbour.

This map shows the size of the area of the City of St. John’s, the City of Mount Pearl and the Town of Paradise.To improve this situation a plan was put in place for a new waste water treatment facility and all new piping to direct the waste water to the waste water treatment facility which was opened on the south side of St. John’s harbour in 2009.

The Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Facility

All of that new piping amounted to 2 km of 1650mm (5 foot ) diameter trunk sanitary sewer pipe to collect waste water and direct it to the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Facility.

A massive project like this required an Environmental Assessment.  Part of that EA was an Historic Resources (Archaeological) study.  Given that the 2 km of trunk sanitary sewer pipe was going to be installed under the main downtown streets of the oldest city in North America there was a lot of concern about the impact on archaeology sites.

St. Johns Harbour showing (Red line) where the new trunk sewer is installed

Gerald Penney Associates Limited were hired to conduct the Historic Resources Assessment.  Since 2004 they have had more than 10 archaeology permits and have registered more than 60 archaeology sites in the area of the sewer installation.   In February, 2010 they gave a presentation at The Rooms on their involvement in the project.  The presentation has an excellent assortment of artifact pictures, historic photos of downtown and historic maps of the Harbour area  and it shows how they found many of the sites.

After looking through the PDF of their  presentation you’ll never walk the streets of Downtown St. John’s again and not think of the history under your feet.

Under the Streets of St. John’s 2010 (4 MB Adobe PDF)

For more information on the St. John’s Harbour Clean-Up you can go to the City of St. John’s webpage.

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