File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS The harbour in Lunenburg, N.S., is seen. The UNESCO World Heritage site has been dealing with an unpleasant odour in the town related to their sewage treatment infrastructure.

Sewage stink plaguing scenic N.S. tourist town cleared with new biofilter

HALIFAX — One of Nova Scotia’s most scenic tourist towns appears to have rid itself of a nasty smell that would often drive residents indoors during the summer.

The Town of Lunenburg installed a biofilter composed of crushed tree roots at its sewage treatment plant last winter at a cost of more than $1.1 million, and it’s now taking care of the foul odour that had become more noticeable during recent dry summers.

“This summer it’s been wonderful,” said Ronald Thurlow, who lives on a street just a few hundred metres from the treatment plant. “We haven’t smelled anything so far.”

Thurlow described the past smell as “unbearable” at times, especially on hot summer days.

The smell could waft over the hillside town, which is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its seafaring heritage and brightly coloured buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

“You know what crap smells like?” Thurlow asked. “Well that was about the size of it. No matter which way the wind was blowing, somebody was getting it.”

Lee Fougere, Lunenburg’s town engineer, said the problem originated with a combined sewage system that collects sanitary and storm water.

“When storm water is low due to drought, the flows can be reduced significantly coming into the plant, which creates an anaerobic situation and it goes septic before it even gets to our plant,” he said. “As that happens, it releases off gases within the plant — methane and hydrogen sulphide primarily — which give the odours.”

With the new system, Fougere said the exhaust gases are pushed underground through perforated pipes and then up through a pile of crushed tree roots where the odour is absorbed through a process called biological disintegration.

“The micro-organisms that are within the odour itself feed on the roots and on the off gases from the plant and actually eat the odour,” he said.

John McGee, Lunenburg’s deputy mayor, said the town was able to pay for the new system through a program funded by all three levels of government — financial co-operation that he said is essential for a small town with a population of just under 2,300.

McGee said the town is now considering three different options ranging in cost from $3 million to $9 million to upgrade its entire sewage system because of sediment that has fouled parts of the harbour.

Testing conducted last summer saw elevated levels of fecal contamination at several sites in the harbour and near the waterfront, while the levels near the mouth of the harbour were judged acceptable.

McGee said the exact cause of the problem still hasn’t been determined, adding that it could lie within the sewage outflow pipes or with the 250 years of waste that’s in the harbour sediment.

Regardless, he said the town is committed to tackling the problem, although it will again need help from the other levels of government.

“The good thing about being a UNESCO town is that I think there is a will right now with the province and the feds to help us once we know what the problem is,” he said.

Just Posted

Woman killed in collision west of Rocky Mountain House

A 42-year-old woman is dead after a two-vehicle collision in Clearwater County… Continue reading

Rough camper “tree house” found hidden in Red Deer woods

“This took a bit of work,” says man who discovered it

Central Alberta has one less peacekeeper with death of Nobel Prize-winning vet

The late Wayne Coubrough and Wayne Bevis helped diffuse tensions in the Middle East

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

Tribunal rules Edmonton pharmacist harmed integrity of profession

EDMONTON — An Edmonton pharmacist has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct… Continue reading

WATCH: Trailer stolen from Red Deer deli

A Red Deer business has contacted police after a trailer was stolen… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Alberta loses extra-innings thriller at men’s baseball nationals

Alberta came up just short in their second game at the Baseball… Continue reading

G7 leaders should step up own climate plans to help the Amazon, Greenpeace says

OTTAWA — Some Canadian environment groups are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau… Continue reading

Third-party buys billboard to promote Bernier’s anti-mass immigration stance

OTTAWA — Billboards with Maxime Bernier’s face and a slogan advocating against… Continue reading

Ottawa ready to pass law forcing CN to restore rusting Quebec Bridge

Ottawa says its ready to take ownership of the aging Quebec Bridge… Continue reading

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

‘Our bigger enemy’: Trump escalates attack on Fed chief

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump launched a furious and highly personal attack… Continue reading

Ontario shipyard accuses feds of unfairly stacking deck in Davie’s favour

OTTAWA — An Ontario shipyard is accusing the federal government of trying… Continue reading

Most Read