The City of Regina and EPCOR have issued an apology for reoccurring odours coming from a new wastewater treatment plant in the city’s northwest.
Residents in Fairway West have been dealing with a “horrendous” stench on-and-off since mid-July.
“If you sleep with your window open at night it will wake you up. It’s that bad,” Westhill resident, Dean Laws said.
“It smells like it’s been sitting in the toilet for three days. It’s pretty gross,” neighbour Ron Frigon added.
Officials from the city said construction of the new wastewater treatment plant, which is being built by EPCOR, has required some materials to be moved from the treatment process into an existing lagoon.
The materials in question, called residuals, are left over after water treatment. At the plant in Regina, a treated water stream is discharged directly into Wascana Creek.
Vicki Campbell, the senior operations manager for EPCOR Regina, said there are three digesters at the plant, which are used to get the pathogens out of wastewater using high heat.
One of the digesters has already been upgraded and the second is in the process of being upgraded.
At the same time the digesters are being upgraded, EPCOR has started introducing a different quality of wastewater influent to the digesters.
“The last remaining digester has an old mixing system in it that couldn’t handle the new quality of sludge,” Campbell said.
“With one digester not being able to take that quality, that’s why we had to send it to the lagoons and provide that treatment in the lagoons that we would have normally treated in the digester.”
To take the load off the third digester, EPCOR sent the sludge, which is biological matter found in wastewater that settles during a bioreactor process, to one of its lagoons for treatment.
“At the same time that that’s all happening, we had a heat wave and it really led to this odour issue,” Campbell said.
Once the two other digesters are upgraded, the third will be taken offline so it can also be upgraded.
As part of construction at the plant,sludge will still be transferred to the lagoons for approximately one week. The smell is then expected to fully disperse.
“It’s a little difficult to be exact on the time because there’s a few things that are going to be affecting this,” Campbell said.
According to Campbell, EPCOR is expediting odour control chemicals and is working to bring in specialty equipment in the next couple of days so the chemicals and sludge can be mixed.
“We’re really working hard on mitigating these odours as fast as possible and we know it’s important to the community, so it’s really high on our priority list,” she said.
Campbell said the odour does not affect any water treatment or ongoing construction.
According to the city, the odour is not a threat to the public’s health.
Full construction at the plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. EPCOR has recently started running wastewater through the new components.
As for future odours, Campbell said unless there are emergency situations, this particular odour from the lagoons won’t reoccur.
“This lagoon odour issue is specific to some current problems that we’re having,” she said.