The town of Osoyoos, B.C., has been dealing with a smelly problem. It is working to fix a failed sewage pond but solving the odorous problem will require a lengthy and costly repair.
Although the air now smells cleaner, only a few weeks ago, a strong stench was coming from the town’s sewage lagoons near the Osoyoos Golf Course — something that has been an ongoing issue for the city.
“I certainly understand the concerns because some of my friends have contacted me and contacted the town and said, ‘You know, there’s some awful smells and we don’t know where it’s coming from, but we can’t sit out on our deck,’” said Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff.
Staff originally thought the smell was a standard odour issue that occasionally comes with changes in weather or volume use. However, they believe the strong smell is a sign of a much bigger problem.
“A couple of weeks ago, we did find out that the pond is upset or failed, which basically means the biological process within it is no longer working,” said Rod Risling, Osoyoos’ chief administrative officer.
Risling says it’ll be a two-step process to fix and staff have already begun to mitigate the smell.
“What we need to do is actually dredge that lagoon, and part of that process is getting ministerial approval. We’re happy to announce that the ministry has been doing a great job and helping us to expedite the whole process. We’re filing paperwork as fast as we can,” Risling said.
Due to the expected influx of summer visitors, there is concern it could aggravate the issue.
“We normally have about 5,500 people here, in the summer can get up to 20,000. The volume and the heat, and the pipes get used all the time. But it is definitely on our list of priorities for this council,” said McKortoff.
The repair process will be long and expensive. According to the town’s website, to construct a full tertiary wastewater treatment plant would cost upwards of $40 million plus an annual operating cost increase of approximately $300,000.
“Unfortunately, it’s going to be absorbed by our users. We’re looking at different options to address it. No final plans have been made yet, but it’s something that we’re going to have to absorb and unfortunately, it is going to get passed on to our users,” said Risling.
Those alternative treatment upgrades could still cost the town as much as $10 million.
In the meantime, staff want to remind residents and visitors to do their part in protecting the system.
“Asking our users to do what they can and things like don’t put grease down the drains, wipes, personal hygiene items, so follow the rules as far as what you’re putting down our drains to assist us in getting through this and then I appreciate everyone’s help,” said Risling.
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