Southside residents take sewage lagoon smell issue to Ministry of Environment, B.C. Ombudsperson

Residents of Southside are fed up with the sewage lagoon smell, and are taking their complaints to the B.C. Ombudsperson, and the Ministry of Environment.

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Southside residents are sick of enduring the ‘horrible’ stench coming from the nearby Revelstoke Sewage Treatment Plant.

For JD Green the stench literally makes him sick. He experiences migraines that he says can be triggered by smells. It means he and his wife Susie are unable to open their windows to cool down their home during the hot summer.

In a video interview (above) with the Mountaineer, Susie and JD said they want the city to make a bonafide effort to address the issues behind the ongoing stench.

The Greens aren’t alone in their frustration. They are among a number of Southside residents who have been in contact with the Ministry of Environment’s environmental protection division over the issue.

Another Southside resident who had also been in contact with the Ministry of Environment declined to speak with the Mountaineer, stating she had been asked to not speak with media.

2015 file photo: City staff work on the newly-arrived stirring devices, which were commissioned in late May at an estimated cost of $120,000. Photo: City of Revelstoke

The Mountaineer has contacted the Ministry of Environment to clarify their involvement and why they would ask a complainant to not speak with media, but no response has been given.

Mike Thomas, City of Revelstoke director of engineering declined to do an on camera interview with the Mountaineer, but did confirm someone from the Ministry of Environment had conducted a site inspection following the complaints.

“The plant and the work the city’s operators are doing meets the effluent and operational requirements under the permit and they are aware of everything the city is working on to address the odour issues,” Thomas said in an email to the Mountaineer.

Thomas said while the odour is a problem it is not an indication the treatment plant is failing.

“it’s just not working in this heat and the odour is an extremely unfortunate consequence when the atmospheric conditions push the odour across the Southside area and beyond,” said Thomas.

The Revelstoke Sewage Treatment Plant is located between the Southside neighbourhood and the city;s industrial park. Image: Google Maps

Thomas said city staff had installed additional aeration and piping on Friday, July 7 in hopes it would help reduce the odour.

The city posted a statement on its website last week outlining how staff are addressing the smelly issue. A request for proposals to conduct a feasibility study is included in the list of solutions.

Among other solutions the city is attempting are:

  • Conversion to fine bubble aeration
  • Desludging the first pond
  • Addition of ferric chloride dosing at Downie Lift Station
  • Inlet Works odour control project
  • Periodic dosing the first pond with granular nitrate
  • Periodic addition of beneficial bacteria in first pond
  • Eliminating some anaerobic waste streams
  • Installing mixers in first pond
  • Improvements in airflow/cooling in the blower room to increase air output.
  • Additional aeration work underway in 2017.

Thomas said the feasibility study is necessary to update the Liquid Waste Management plan and to help reopen the issue with the Ministry of Environment.

“The Liquid Waste Management Plan was the feasibility study process, we just need to kick it off again, and confirm the direction we want to take with treatment technology [and] location,” he said.

The Greens say the thought of another feasibility study is frustrating.

“It’s been studied to death. They know what the issue is,” said Susie.

Residents are also mobilizing online, forming the Southside Sewer Stink Facebook page. They plan to take advantage of the provincial Ombudsperson’s visit to Revelstoke on July 11, where they have arranged meetings and are pressing for action. Some are planning to attend the July 11 city council meeting where the B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke will be presenting to council.

Are you a resident of Southside who is effected by the sewer smell? The Revelstoke Mountaineer wants to hear your story. Contact [email protected] to share your experience.

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Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at [email protected]