Huntingdon area residents fed up with wastewater stench

Residents in the municipalities around the Town of Huntingdon have been dealing with a recurring smell since last spring coming from the local wastewater treatment plant.

Residents launch petition demanding town empty out water treatment facility's septic tanks

The source of the stench, the wastewater basins at the Huntingdon Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Some residents of Godmanchester, Huntingdon and Hinchinbrooke have had it with a recurring, nauseating scent coming from the wastewater treatment centre.

They have started a petition in the hopes the Town of Huntingdon will take notice and clean out the plant's septic tanks.

The problem began in May 2015, when residents began noticing a septic smell from the plant's wastewater basins. The stench has been a cause for concern for many living within a 10-kilometre radius.

'It's so awful you can't even go outside'

Marie L'Ecuyer, a resident of Godmanchester, said the smell has become a part of her daily considerations and had even became a central concern of her wedding planning last weekend.

She was setting up her backyard for the event when guests started commenting on the stench. That is when L'Ecuyer got nervous.

"What if it stinks, you know?" L'Ecuyer said. "You don't want to eat, it's a smell that gives you headaches so yes I was very worried about that."

Marie L'Ecuyer makes a face as she describes Huntingdon smell. (Arian Zarrinkoub/CBC)

Jean-Louis Labbe, who lives down the street, said the stench gets so bad it makes it hard to function at times.

"It was so awful you can't even go outside," Labbe said. "My wife one night she couldn't sleep. All the neighbours have the same problem."

Septic tanks have never been fully cleaned out

The Huntingdon wastewater treatment plant was built in 1995.

The town blames the bouts of stench on environmental factors and local factories dumping large quantities of waste into the sewage system, but plant director Martin Forget admits the septic tanks have never been fully cleaned out.

"We've always had good water quality so we were never rushed to do it."

 L'Ecuyer said the stench has kept her family indoors and prevented them from enjoying what she describes as an already short summer in the region.

Matin Forget, director of the plant, says emptying the tanks could cost hundreds of thousands.

In a petition she launched on June 7, she requested that Huntingdon "take action to rectify the smell emanating from its sewage treatment facility."

The petition has collected nearly 200 signatures and she said neighbours were happy to see organized efforts made to tackle the issue.

Some residents had contacted Environment Quebec and the town but said nothing was being done, according to L'Ecuyer.

"I think that was the biggest frustration."

The situation has been better over the last few days, but L'Ecuyer said she just wants the fresh air return to Huntingdon.