Jan 19

City seeks solution for Edmonton’s stinky sewers

A smelly subject came up at the City of Edmonton Utility Committee hearing Friday as councillors and city administrators discussed how to address the thousands of complaints of foul odours emanating from Edmonton’s drainage system.

Over the last eight years, the 311 city services hotline has fielded more than 7,000 such complaints.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: ‘It is horrendous’: West Edmonton residents concerned about sewer odour

The committee resolved to have a strategy to deal with the sewer issue by the end of the year.

According to Coun. Michael Walters, his constituents living near 34 Avenue and 106 Street have been particularly vocal about the matter.

“The experience that I’ve heard from people is that they won’t go in their backyards at certain times when this happens,” he said. “It’s that strong. So I’ve stood there on that corner and it’s awful.”

The city says while the stench is more pronounced, the smell coming from the drainage system is actually quite widespread throughout the sewer system, which spans about 5,500 kilometres.

READ MORE: ‘People would vomit’: Edmonton residents bring sour gas concerns to City Hall

Edmonton’s director of city planning explained what causes the smell.

“Because of… the solids in the sewer system settle out, it does create an environment for where the bacteria can start to grow and create the gases we find that are foul,” Todd Wyman said. “So cleaning that out, gets rid of that food source and moves it along so that odour generation does not exist.”

It’s believed the large trunk sewer lines, deep below the ground, are what’s at the root of the bad smell. Because of their depth, they are difficult to clean and the city’s drainage department is now tasked with figuring out how to do that.

READ MORE: New sewer system problems for west Edmontonians beset with sewer issues for years

According to the city, on average, the sewer infrastructure is inspected every 10 years or so.

-With files from Shallima Maharaj and 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston.