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Edmonton creating scoring system to measure sewer odour complaints

A general view of Edmonton City Hall on Oct. 20, 2013.
Edmonton City Hall. Heather Loney, Global News

City drainage staff are putting the finishing touches on a measuring system to deal with the growing number of complaints about what’s wafting from the sewer system. The findings will be brought to city council in August prior to the takeover of the system by Epcor.

Branch manager Chris Ward said the only common way to measure, as an industry standard, is admittedly subjective: what smells, and where?

READ MORE: City seeks solution for Edmonton’s stinky sewers

“What they’re actually measuring is the number of odour complaints,” he told reporters. “So the metric starts to become how many odour complaints are we getting? And how are you reducing the number of odour complaints. It’s rather a reactive measure.

“It’s probably a beginning point but we’re not aware of anyone doing anything different than that. We’ll evaluate what are the possibilities but it does become very subjective and then what are the various gases you’re smelling and all of those kinds of questions.”

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Problems continue to emanate in West Jasper Place and Bonnie Doon. Airflow is a problem, especially when there’s a long stretch or deep pipe that is difficult to get at to vent, Ward said.

“There is definitely a relationship between the deep pipes or a drop into a deep location or the end of large travel distances within the sewer system where there are those drops. There are some of those themes, but that is part of the strategy: trying to figure what all those themes are and how do we address them.”

He said the air does have to escape at some point and the goal is to release it where there’s no one around to irritate. Failing that, then the city has to find a way to mitigate the smell.

In West Jasper Place, tunnelling work continues to resolve the problem. The deputy city manager for infrastructure, Adam Laughlin, said they’re still more than a year away from completing the major first step of building a bypass sewer system.

“Work is going to be carrying over into next year, probably the middle of 2018,” Laughlin told reporters. “Then what we’re going to be doing is doing a better reassessment of the remaining infrastructure needs in that area.”

He said they’ll come up with solutions once they see the size and scope of the problem after the bypass is completed.

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