British Columbia

'The sewage smell drifts in every evening': Revelstoke struggles with stink from open lagoon sewer

The stench of sewage in Revelstoke, B.C., is so pungent that some residents are complaining they can’t eat outside or leave their windows open as the weather heats up.

Odour issues have been an ongoing problem in the city for decades but will be costly to fix

The sewer in Revelstoke, an open lagoon system, is next to an urban area and residents of nearby neighbourhoods are complaining about the smells. (Google Maps)

The stench of sewage in Revelstoke, B.C., is so pungent that some residents are complaining they can't eat outside or leave their windows open as the weather heats up.

Simon Wex has lived in Revelstoke for the past decade and says day-to-day activities of residents in his neighbourhood are being affected.

"The sewage smell drifts in every evening," he told Chris Walker, the host of Daybreak South.

"It's bad enough that you can't eat dinner outside. Barbecues in the summer are out of the question, and you can't open your windows to cool off the house."

Revelstoke uses an open lagoon system to treat its sewage, relying mainly on naturally occurring bacteria. Odour issues have been an ongoing problem in the city during warmer months for nearly two decades.

The existing plant was built in the 1970s. It has had numerous upgrades to address the odour and effectiveness in the past years, but bad smells continue to plague the city.

"The city staff are trying really hard," Wex said. "But at the end of the day, they are managing an open sewer lagoon in a populated urban environment."

He said he would like to see the city invest in a more modern sewage system.

Costly fix

Mike Thomas, the director of engineering with the city, acknowledges the extent of the problem.

"It's not a pleasant smell," he said. "The smell has spread across quite a large neighbourhood on many nights."

Part of the issue is with the aeration system which the city plans to replace in one of the lagoons.

They have set aside $200,000 in the budget and will present a report at the next council meeting to seek approval to proceed.

Long term, though, the sewer plants will need to be upgraded to meet the needs of a growing resort community, Thomas said.

But a major overhaul comes with a high price tag. Powell River, for example, recently announced plans for a new $66 million wastewater treatment plant.

"This is something that we want to make sure that we get right because it is a huge amount of money for the community," Thomas said.

With files from Daybreak South.

now