Foul smells coming from Osoyoos’ wastewater system are a result of a sewage treatment failure, town officials say.
Some residents have complained over the last week about the powerful odour witnessed and produced throughout the community.
Upon further investigation, town staff say they are ‘90 per cent confident’ the smells are the result of a treatment-process failure at the wastewater treatment lagoons.
“We are in contact with the Ministry of Environment as we look to make operational changes to confirm our suspicions, which will require cell #2 to be taken offline, drained, and cleaned,” a press release from the town reads. “Unfortunately, the odours generated by the treatment cell will continue until we can drain and clean the cell.”
Officials added that the cell can not be drained and cleaned without consultation and various approvals from the ministry.
“The unseasonable high temperatures are not helping the situation either,” the release reads. “As the temperature of the wastewater increases, the biological treatment can be negatively impacted, resulting in further odour release.”
Residents, particularly those who live near the Osoyoos Golf Course where the ponds are located, have taken to social media to complain about the smell generated from the wastewater facility.
The town calls the facility failure a “significant event” and says it understands residents’ frustration.
“But we want to reassure our community that we are working hard to resolve this issue in a timely manner,” the town said.
Increased wastewater influent flow and extreme temperature changes are among the factors that cause cell failures.
“Wastewater treatment is a complex issue, and it is important to note that no system will completely eliminate odours, including switching to a ‘treatment plant,’ which some have advocated for in the past,” the town writes.
They add that the cost to construct a full tertiary wastewater treatment plant would be upwards of $40 million.
“At this time, the Town does not feel that this is an economical solution to our treatment and odour issues,” officials said.
Similar events in Osoyoos have occurred a number of times over the last few years.
A petition in September 2019 was even submitted to the town’s previous council, with residents calling the smell “unbearable.”
Updates from the town will be shared as they become available.