Problems with Sewage across Iceland Skip to content

Problems with Sewage across Iceland

The sewage system in many towns in Iceland has been in a poor condition for a long time, including in Akureyri in North Iceland, the largest town outside the capital region with 17,000 inhabitants. The town’s main drain pipe is now being improved.

akureyri-view_goAkureyri. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Svandís Svavarsdóttir told Fréttablaðið that the extent to which the state of sewage systems in Iceland is lagging behind neighboring countries is an issue of concern.

The development of sewage systems in Iceland has stagnated, she said, and the situation has even worsened in some cases due to lack of maintenance.

It’s clear that some municipalities must take immediate action to fulfill conditions on sewage; administrational fines are being considered as repercussions, the minister revealed.

Fréttablaðið reported in mid-December that many of the larger municipalities outside the capital region had not completed the establishment of sewage cleansing facilities in spite of the extension to do so expired a long time ago. The cost is cited as the reason.

“Between 70 and 80 percent of the country’s inhabitants have decent sewage cleansing but the situation is unacceptable among 20-30 percent of inhabitants,” Svandís stated.

In Akureyri, the drain opens up near the marina, only extends five meters from land and is at a depth of two meters, causing sewage pollution on repeated occasions, reports.

The condition is expected to change with a 100-meter extension of the pipe and its relocation at a depth of ten meters.

However, this is not the ultimate solution to the town’s sewage problems. A sewage cleaning station will also be built and the pipe extended to 450 meters and moved to a depth of 40 meters, according to the municipality’s engineer Helgi Már Pálsson.

“The plan is to launch the project in 2017 and complete it by 2019,” Helgi stated. The project is estimated to cost ISK 1.5 billion (USD 12 million, EUR 9 million).

At the same time, the sewage systems on the islands Hrísey and Grímsey, which belong to the municipality, will be improved, he added.


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