Residents in Osoyoos are fed up with the “unbearable” smell coming from the town’s sewage system.
At the regular council meeting on Sept. 3, Sandra Hachey presented a petition circulated by Gordon Kandola, another town resident, upset with the increasing odours from the sewer system near the town’s golf course. The petition was signed by roughly 66 residents and calls for a “speedy solution.”
“The awful smell definitely has increased the last couple of years. It makes it sometimes impossible, unbearable to sit outside on a summer evening and have dinner,” said Hachey during the committee of the whole. “We can’t leave our windows open in the night because the smell is so intense. And we’re are just fed up and want to know if the town has something planned, any plans to resolve the problem.”
Mayor Sue McKortoff acknowledged that the town has received numerous complaints over the years about the smell created by the sewer system, and that they would like to see a resolution to the problem as well.
“We absolutely do understand what the concerns are, we hear about it often. We have gotten your petition with many people’s names on it. We used to get updates often because the retired CAO lives up there, and he certainly understands what the issues are and I’m sure shares the concern that all of you have,” said McKortoff, who invited operations director Jared Brounstein to explain why the system is causing this problem.
“Our system is designed for 20,000 people and we normally only have 5,000 people servicing it. So what happens is through the summer the loads go through the roof. And that causes additional flow in the system, and unfortunately, our system is not designed to keep up with it instantaneously. It takes time for the bacterial aspects to kick in,” said Brounstein. “Then by the end of the summer, the system is now settled back down and the smells start to dissipate.
“So I know it’s during that two-month window when all of you folks want to be outside in the beautiful weather.”
Furthermore, he explained that the system in generaland how it transports waste water to the lagoon can also be adding to the increased odour.
“We have what’s known as low-flow stations, so a lot of our stations see little to no flow all year-round. So what happens is the station at the far end might turn over every three weeks, then it pumps to the next station where it might turn over every two weeks, then it pumps to the next station and that might turn over once a week,” said Brounstein. “So by the time it gets (to the other station) that’s what’s known as going septic, so it’s extra rank and extra smelly. So it goes (from there) and pumps into our main lift, and heads up to the lagoons, and as soon as it hits the pumping station it becomes aerated. So it releases that smell even more.”
When asked by Hachey if the town was looking into using additives such as Acti-Zyme, which contains a combination of bacteria and enzymes essential for effective digestion of organic waste and can reduce and eliminate odour-causing compounds, Brounstein said they were but cautioned that these solutions can be “hit or miss.”
But Brounstein couldn’t provide a definite answer as to why the smell has apparently gotten worse over the last few years, mentioning that speaking with the previous CAO he has learned that it “ebbs and flows,” where it will smell really bad one year and then it gets better another year. He said he’d have to go back and look at the 15 to 20 years of history of the system to fully understand why it changes, something he has not had the opportunity to do yet.
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