Mayor apologizes for Southside sewer stink

City continues to search for a long term solution for Revelstoke's sewage lagoon.

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

Southside residents were hit with the all too familiar sour smell of Revelstoke’s sewer lagoon during last week’s heat wave. Understandably, they were none too happy with the situation.

Mayor Mark McKee apologized to those affected by the smell during the regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 22. Click on the video below to watch a video of McKee addressing residents impacted by the sewer smell.

“It’s not acceptable, it’s not something that we want to see happen. I want to reassure the community that what happened is not a result of somebody asleep at the switch, not doing their job. It’s an event that does happen in these kind of systems where we get a heat wave in and the system turns over,” said McKee.

Some residents chose to use the city of Revelstoke’s “See, Click, Fix” reporting system and social media to express their frustrations over the recent sewer stench. Patti Matsushita called it a sad time of year, saying Southside residents are unable to enjoy opening their windows to enjoy the cool evening breeze because of the stench. Another resident who posted on “See, Click, Fix” said it is discouraging that work started by the City of Revelstoke last summer appears to not have been successful in mitigating the smelly problem.

In response to complaints on See, Click, Fix director of engineering Mike Thomas said he was at the sewage treatment plant to address the smell with operators on Friday, May 18.

“[R]ight now the operators are doing everything they can to make sure the treatment processes are working as well as possible.” said Thomas.

Thomas said in his reply that even a healthy pond will give off a stench during the first pond “turn over,” noting it’s a natural process that occurs when accumulated sludge from the winter months can rise to the surface.

“Things may or may not settle down after this, and that’s why we’re continuing to work on finding a long term solution,” said Thomas.

The city began working on a solution to mitigate the sewer stench last summer.  The Mountaineer wrote several stories covering residents’ concerns over the stench, which resulted in some going as far as contacted the BC Ombudsperson.

Operation of the plant was improved slightly in 2017 with some aeration pipework. Plans for 2018 include $200,000 in the city’s budget earmarked for aearation upgrades and staff are exploring further regulating the quality of sewer discharge from commercial and industrial properties comply with sewer regulation bylaw requirements. Thomas said fat, oil and grease accumulation presents an issue for operation of the sewer collection system and as well as a significant load on the city’s sewer treatment plant.

“Finally, this is not a simple problem with a simple solution. Staff and consultants are working on short-term and long-term solutions described above, and appreciate that these odours are a problem that needs to be fixed,” said Thomas.

McKee said the city recognizes there is still work to be done to the sewage lagoon.

“We know people are upset because it’s happened before. It’s not a situation anyone is happy with.”

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