Nfld. & Labrador

Gambo residents kicking up a stink about sewage smells

A group of Gambo residents say they're planning to protest the unpleasant smell.

Group says wastewater is being diverted into Freshwater Bay

Recently, raw, untreated sewage was being dumped into Freshwater Bay from an offline treatment plant in Gambo. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

A group of Gambo residents say the town's wastewater is being poured directly into Freshwater Bay, and the smell makes living in their homes unbearable.

The group say raw sewage has been flowing into the water since July, and one of the town's two small water treatment plants is offline. 

Gambo Mayor Craig Lush declined to comment Monday, ahead of further council meetings on the issue. 

Meanwhile, concerned residents say they're planning a protest at Gambo's town hall on Thursday. 

"You can't go outside. You gotta close up your windows in the house. The stink is just disgusting," said Harold Whitt, who lives across from the bay.

Harold Whitt, standing at the waterfront near his home in Gambo, says the smell is embarrassing for him when he has visitors. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"You get a day when the wind is southerly and that, you can't live here," Whitt said. "The smell goes right back. I mean, even going down the road, the main street here, you can smell the stench."

About 20 people met at Rolla Kelly's home, also on the waterfront, on Monday afternoon to discuss the stink.

Kelly lives next door to the treatment plant and she says it's been a "nightmare" for the past five years.

"If I knew that I was going to get this smell, I would never have bought the house here," she said.

Whitt says sewage is now piling up on the beach on Freshwater Bay, and he believes the bay will have to be cleaned if the town is ever to get rid of the smell. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Kelly says the stench was worse this summer, and is particularly bad on warm days — the same time people want to go outside.

"In the morning, you can smell it even in your house without windows and doors open," she said. "Then there's days I can't put clothes on the line because you are going to bring it in, and you're going to get the smell right through your clothes, right?"

The plant was built in 1984, and uses an extended aeration process, according to Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

Residents in Gambo say the wastewater treatment plant at the south end of town is offline and has been broken since July. Gambo Mayor Craig Lush declined to comment Monday. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Kelly says it's time for a new plant to serve the whole community.

She hopes the problem gets some federal attention from candidates in the Bonavista-Burin-Trinity riding.

Robin Brentnall, who is helping to organize Thursday's protest, said the group plan to raise their own stink over the issue.

He's also taking it to other levels of government, including meeting with members of Gambo's town council, which is looking for more money from the province to fix the plant.

More than a dozen residents of Gambo met at Rolla Kelly's home on Monday to discuss the wastewater issue. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Brentnall said he also emailed Premier Dwight Ball and opposition leaders on Sunday, and told them the issue is affecting businesses, tourists and even the seniors' home in the community.

He called the problem a "environmental emergency."

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About the Author

Garrett Barry


Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.


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