Petitioners assured Osoyoos is working to alleviate the stench from effluent ponds
By ROY WOOD
Assurances that the odour problem on the West Bench is a top priority for the town is about all a delegation of Osoyoos residents came away with from their presentation to Osoyoos council this morning.
About three dozen residents crowded into council chambers to present a 75-name petition protesting what is generally acknowledged to be a particularly bad year for the stench emanating from the sewage lagoons adjacent to the Osoyoos Golf Club.
The petition was signed almost exclusively by residents of the toney Dividend Ridge community adjacent to the golf club.
Some of the comments included: “Unbearable,” “Can’t go outside,” “Please do something,” “Terrible smell. Cannot sit on deck. Bad for tourists,” “Noticeably worse than last summer,” and “Makes you vomit.”
Resident Sandra Hachey acted as spokesperson for the group, telling members of council the odour has increased in the last couple of years and that she and many of her neighbours cannot sit outside in the evening or leave their windows open.
She asked council if there are any plans to address the issue.
Mayor Sue McKortoff was sympathetic. “I’m horrified by what happened this year. … It’s certainly worse than last year.”
She said the issue is one that “concerns all of us on a daily basis at the town hall. … We will try our best to solve this problem.”
The mayor handed off to recently-appointed public works director Jared Brounstein, who has worked for the town since January and was named director in July.
He said he hasn’t had a chance to assess all of the historical data on the sewage treatment system to figure out why the smell is so much worse this summer. He said he continues to work on the problem.
He pointed out that during the heavy summer tourist season the sewer load tends to “go through the roof,” and once summer is over the load and the resulting odours tend to “settle down.”
The series of sewage treatment lagoons are situated on the West Bench between the golf course and the high school. The sewage is pumped to the lagoon system from a station near Legion Beach.
Once it has gone through the treatment process, much of the effluent water is used to irrigate the golf course, the high school playing field and the Desert Park race track infield.
Construction of a replacement lift station at 89th Street and Kingfisher is scheduled to begin this fall.
According to a report to council earlier this year, the new station will include a system for screening non-biodegradable solids before the waste is pumped to the treatment lagoons near the golf course.
The screened-out solids will be picked up by truck once a week or so. The system is designed to minimize odours.