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Edmonton city committee approves plan to combat sewer odours

Edmonton city committee approves plan to address sewer odours
WATCH ABOVE: A plan to address sewer odours in Edmonton has been approved by the city's utility committee. Julia Wong reports.

A plan to combat sewer odours in Edmonton has been given the green light by the city’s utility committee.

The strategy is estimated to cost nearly $220 million, but some residents said that is a price they are willing to pay to part with the smells in their neighbourhood.

On Friday, EPCOR presented a plan to the utility committee that would mitigate the odours; the $217.3-million project would start this year and end by 2026.

READ MORE: Edmonton considers ways to tackle stinky sewer ‘hot spots’

A report to committee states that the odours are caused by hydrogen sulfide being released from the sewer system, which corrodes the sewer infrastructure.

The project would involve a three-pronged approach: it would involve preventing hydrogen sulfide from forming in the sewer system, such as keeping wastewater moving and adding chemical treatments; controlling the release of air from the sewer system, such as reducing air pressure in sewers and providing release points in certain areas; and implementing more monitoring technologies.

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EPCOR Water Services Inc. said the project would reduce odour in Steinhauer-Duggan, Allendale, Pleasantview and Bonnie Doon by 2026 as well as reduce odours in other affected parts of the city by 2031.

READ MORE: Edmonton creating scoring system to measure sewer odour complaints

“The infrastructure we have at the moment was designed in an era where this was not considered,” said Richard Brown, director of draining, planning and engineering at EPCOR.

“We need to put improvements in place as part of knowing what’s going on in the system to better design our future infrastructure.”

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Karen Markel has lived in Steinhauer for 36 years and said she often encounters the odour at 34 Avenue and 106 Street.

“You would cover your nose because it was so strong,” she said.

“It’s been very uncomfortable.”

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Markel describes the odour as an inconvenience and said it has been frustrating waiting for the issue to be fixed. She said the cost of the project would be worth it.

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

“I know I’d be breathing in cleaner air,” she said. “I think it would be a much more pleasant experience when we go walking with somebody else — take them and they wouldn’t have to breathe in that foul smell.”

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Virma Cabaron has owned a house in Duggan since 2005 and detects the odour near Duggan Elementary School.

“As you walk by there, you can smell this sewage odour,” she said. “For me, it’s like, [I think] of avoiding that area because you smell this stinky odour, which is not pleasurable to smell.
“It’s not good. It’s not pleasurable as you stroll. [The] reaction is like, ‘Ew, what’s happening in this neighbourhood?’ because it would reflect on the neighbourhood.”

Cabaron said the project would improve her quality of life.

“I would say, the environment would be pleasant,” she said.

The plan is less costly than a plan previously put forward that would have cost taxpayers between $350 and $460 million.

The project would require taxpayers to pay between $0.58/month and $1.50/month extra on their utility bills.

“I feel pleased with the plan. I feel pleased with the cost of it. This has been an issue I started hearing about since I started doorknocking for council in south Edmonton,” said Councillor Michael Walters.

“When people can’t go outside and enjoy summers in their backyards, which is a pretty important part of our summers here in Edmonton, that’s not OK.”

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Edmontonians have reported more than 10,000 instances of odours in the past decade related to the sewage system.