Nova Scotia town spends $1.1 million to stop smelling like poo

“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.”

Dylan Gibbons Montreal QC

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is a small town with a population of just under 2,300. However, despite its size, it’s a popular tourist destination, bringing in thousands every year to view its picturesque architectural style that incorporates a 19th century feel and more modern pastel paints.

But the town is known for something else: it stinks. It stinks so bad that for years residents have boarded themselves up during hot summer days to avoid the rancid smell that comes wafting over the hills from the local sewage plant.

However, things may be changing for the small tourist town.

The town has just installed an expensive biofilter that uses a series of crushed tree roots at the exit of its sewage plant that helps break down the waste through a process of biological disintegration.

Lunenburg’s deputy mayor John McGee said the town’s biofilter was paid through a program involving local, provincial, and federal government co-operation. The project was installed during the winter and cost just over $1.1 million.

Was it worth it?

A local resident, Ronald Thurlow, certainly thinks so.

“This summer it’s been wonderful,” said Thurlow. “We haven’t smelled anything so far.”

He previously described the foul stench as being “unbearable” during hot summer days.

“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.”

“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,” explains Lunenburg’s town engineer Lee Fougere. “As that happens, it releases off gases within the plant — methane and hydrogen sulphide primarily — which give the odours.”

Fougere then elaborated on the process by which the new biofilter operates. He explains that “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,” reports CTV News.

“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.

Mayor McGee went on to say that the exact cause of the problem hasn’t been identified yet; but, regardless, the solution seems to be effective.

He says the town is now looking into more options to do an entire overhaul of their sewage system.


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