'Dog poo' smell gets up residents' noses

17:21, Oct 26 2013

A mystery smell that has plagued many Christchurch residents for the past two days has not been identified by emergency services or the council.

Numerous Cantabrians had taken to social media and contacted Fairfax Media about a smell that varies in description from dog poo to vomit to silage to rotting fish. Twitter users had started using the hashtag reference #chchsmells. 

"This morning [Saturday] at Warren Park there was a strong smell when my cricket team was playing. Not very pleasant but at least we won the game," said Richard Cleaning.

"It has been bad here in Somerfield all day - I have been out gardening and keep on checking the soles of my shoes thinking I have stood in dog poo," said Jane Doudney.

Ruby Sanderson tweeted, "Why does Christchurch smell like dog poop today?"

Sean Hogan said, "So I'm not the only one smelling poo in Christchurch."


Facebook users said the smell was like "wet dog", "fertiliser", "compost" and "vomity" and some said they first noticed it Friday afternoon.

Others residents had theories about the cause of the smell, many blaming the strong winds that blew through the city all day.

"I think it is due to the strong northwest winds coming in over the dairy farms out to the west of the city. It's smells like this often at the airport in these conditions," said Mathew Hyndman.

Others blamed the city's quake- damaged sewage system. "Christchurch sewer lines often have flat slopes many made worse by earthquakes. In warm dry weather the sewer lines can be full ofsewage and need to be flushed with water to move things along. That may be the problem," said Geoff Birss.

The city council had not received any complaints and the stormwater and sewage systems were fully functioning according to deputy mayor Vicki Buck, who had not noticed a smell.

"The after hours guys at the city council haven't had any calls. All the sewerage is working, all the stormwater is working. None of the people have had any phone calls about it. ECAN [Environment Canterbury] has had no notifications of it either," she said.

"I've been out and about all day and I haven't smelled a thing."

Police had not been notified of an odour, but the fire service responded to a "funny smell" at Burnside High School on Friday.

"To quote the caller, the uneducated thought it smelled sewage, the technical people thought it smelled chemical," said Andrew Norris, fire service shift manager. No source of the smell was found.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel had visited various parts of the city and not noticed the smell.

"It's an absolute mystery. Quite often when there is a strong wind and there is something out of the city. It could be anything. I have no idea what the cause of it is," Dalziel said.

Sunday Star Times