The regional district sewage commission has approved a staff recommendation to include $50,000 in a four-year sewer service financial plan to deal with odour issues at the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre on Brent Road in Area B.
The district will evaluate odour control equipment and practices at the sewage treatment plant near Lazo Wildlife Park, and implement a tracking system to consistently address odour complaints.
“The recommendation makes eminent sense,” Courtenay director/commission vice-chair Jon Ambler said Tuesday.
The committee acknowledged correspondence from Curtis Road resident Jenny Steel, who has requested action on behalf of about 22 houses in and around Point Holmes that are affected by the smell, which is at its worst in summer.
Though pleased the committee has not denied the problem, Steel is disappointed there is not a greater sense of urgency to find solutions.
“These are noxious sewerage treatment gases that we’re smelling and the CVWPCC staff don’t know exactly what they are,” she said, adding residents hoped something could have started earlier to provide “some relief from the problem next summer.
“Instead, we have been given a timeline of somewhere between 2014 to 2018 for only an evaluation.”
The plant treats wastewater from Courtenay and Comox. The district began to receive odour complaints shortly after the facility was built in 1984.
The following year, the Curtis Road residents committee filed legal action, which was resolved out-of-court in 1992. Along with compensating residents, the CVRD relocated the composting facility and installed additional treatments to capture and treat the most odorous gases from equipment.
By 1997, a scrubber system had been installed for $2 million. In 2002, a new composting facility worth $5 million was constructed at the waste management centre.
An Odour Control Policy says the district will not spend further money on odour control unless new technology could lessen the smell for a reasonable cost, among other exceptions.
One way to monitor odour levels is to track odour-related complaints, a staff report states. The CVRD logs complaints but does not necessarily respond in a consistent manner.
If a complaint tracking system is not in place by the new fiscal year, Steel said homeowners are likely to create their own system.