$35k fragrance system to mask bad smell

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 11/12/2012

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Giant air fresheners may be set up around Palmerston North's wastewater treatment plant to stop offensive smells escaping across the boundary.

A $35,000 system to spray a fine mist of oils and organic compounds has been proposed following complaints about the pong on hot, still days in recent weeks.

Horizons Regional Council has assessed the odour problems as a breach of the plant's consent conditions, and warned the council to act or risk being served an abatement notice.

Water and waste services manager Rob Green said the spray heads would stand about 3 metres tall, and would operate on the boundaries closest to homes and the racecourse on still days or when wind conditions were likely to waft odours in their direction.

However, councillors have told staff to first ask Horizons for more time to identify exactly what is causing the smell, and to fix the problem at its source.

Mr Green was only able to narrow down the source to the sedimentation tanks, digesters and aerated lagoons.

He confirmed that the complaints began about the same time as the wetland pond (the final stage before treated wastewater is discharged to the Manawatu River) had malfunctioned, allowing dark sludge to ooze into the river. The sludge that had built up in the pond had not yet been dealt with.

Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said the spray system would not address the source of the problem.

"If you are just masking the smell, you are not really getting to the cause. We don't know whether the bad smell is a sign of something happening that we don't want."

Mayor Jono Naylor agreed that councillors should approve installation of the spray system, but should first negotiate with Horizons for more time to identify the problem.

The cost of the system is not in the council's budget, but Mr Green said he was confident there would be savings on other projects reported in the six-month financial review that could be used to pay for it.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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