Second fault means Shotover stench sticking round

by Kim Bowden - Dec 20, 2023

As one fault is fixed another emerges meaning the weeks-long stink from Queenstown's poo ponds isn't going away for now.

Contractors and staff at the Queenstown Lakes District Council's Shotover Wastewater Treatment Plant have been scrambling to complete urgent repairs at the site but a fresh complication means the bad smell is unlikely to dissipate as quickly as previously indicated.

In a statement this morning council's infrastructure and property boss Tony Avery says a secondary problem with the facility’s aeration grids has been discovered.

“This new issue has impacted our ability to return the biological treatment process to normal, and we’re aware odour continues to be a noticeable problem in the area,” Mr Avery says.

“We’re working to secure the necessary replacement parts required and plan to undertake further maintenance at the facility this week.”

In the meantime, plans are in place to operate an odour mitigation cannon, which uses a water-based fog to try and encapsulate the smell before it moves off-site.

Last week neighbours told Crux of the impact of living within range of the disgusting stench. Back then, they were already fed up with it and concerned about what visitors, set in the coming weeks to reach peak levels, must be thinking.

In today's statement, Mr Avery acknowledges the facility’s operational snags have led to an unpleasant time for local residents and businesses, and he apologises. 

“While it’s difficult to say how long it will take for the biological process to stabilise and for all odour to dissipate, significant progress continues to be made and we should start to see the smell in the area improving."

The Otago Regional Council has confirmed it is investigating the site to determine any breach of air discharge rules but will not comment further while this work is undertaken.

Mr Avery says his council continues to provide the regional council's pollution team with daily reports on odour coming from the treatment plant.

The initial repairs focused on an issue with the sludge processing and dewatering system at the facility.

Last week the council told Crux it was too early to provide any indication of much the emergency repairs may cost.

The faults are unrelated to upgrade work underway to improve wastewater capacity in the district, which have a $35 million price tag.

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