Raw sewage causes stink

If it smells like sewage, it probably is. And it was.

If it smells like sewage, it probably is. And it was.

Maggy Davidson at Spirit Quest Bookstore and some of her neighbours on Lakeshore Drive have been living with a disgusting odour for months now. It comes and goes, wafting into their stores, making them nauseous, then disappearing.

Davidson says she’s been dealing with it since October, Jacalyn Hays at Bella Interiors noticed it about a year ago.

“I had got in touch with the city a couple of times a year ago about this problem. They passed it off – it’s nothing, it’s nothing, it’s your imagination type of thing. It’s been a big problem for a long time and they’ve ignored it, which I find very annoying,” says Hays.

Davidson, too, said city hall’s attitude stunk.

“They’ve been awful to deal with. Inferring I didn’t know what a sewer smell smells like – and it’s true, I don’t spend time crawling around sewers; they inferred my staff didn’t know what it smelled like.”

She said she’s had a plumber to her building four times, and other tradespeople.

“The city said it was a gas leak… so the gas company came with their meters. The city said it’s after burners, you need to get your furnace looked at.”

Finally, she says, the city agreed to flush the storm-sewer lines out front.

“Then the smell was gone, miracle.”

But the problem moved to Hays’ store.

“I guess when they flushed the lines, they sent it down her direction and made her life miserable,” says Davidson. Then it came back Davidson’s way. The smell was so bad, she wondered if some poor unsuspecting fish had made a wrong turn and got lodged in the storm water pipe.

However, last week, action. City staff sniffed out the source of the problem. Dale McTaggart, the city’s director of engineering and public works, told the Observer Friday that by running cameras into both the sanitary and storm sewers, staff discovered that somebody got the pipes mixed up. Sewage has been running into the storm water system while storm water has been funnelled into the sewage pipes.

“I don’t know what happened, but sewer is actually going into the storm sewer from two service connections,” McTaggart said.

Storm water is treated only by catch basins, where debris is trapped so it doesn’t enter the pipes.

“Now the sewage has settled into the catch basins so the odour is getting stronger and stronger and stronger,” he said.

On Monday, crews were on the corner of Lakeshore and Shuswap, digging to fix the problem.

So what does the bypassing of the sewage treatment plant mean for the lake? McTaggart says it’s not a significant problem.

“If any little bit has gone in, it wouldn’t make any difference at all because the lake is just so huge. Now and then we do find these cross-connections that have occurred.”

Storm water comes out at different outfalls along the foreshore, he said. One beside the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, one behind the waste water treatment plant, another one further west by the bus depot, another near Canadian Tire. He believes only small amounts would have gone into the lake.

“Especially in that area it goes into a long, wide foreshore. Waste will then get used up by grasses and plants.”

Both the sewer and storm water pipes are four-inch turquoise PVC pipes.

“Somehow people get these things mixed. They’re both the same size and look the same,” he said, adding he doesn’t know how and when it happened. He said people don’t need plumbing permits if there’s a blockage and they’re digging up a pipe to clear it out.

“We do find them every now and then. More we find them in new buildings. When they connect up in new houses, they can connect them backwards. Everything is marked but when they connect up to the building, they forget which pipe goes where.”

Regarding repairs to Lakeshore by the city, he said the piping wasn’t touched; the asphalt was re-milled and the street repaved. Water pipes, by law, are kept three metres away from the sanitary sewer.

As to why the city didn’t act sooner, McTaggart said, “Our guys went down a couple of times and didn’t notice anything, and then, another day, there it was. It came and went.”

Hays has another theory. She said she finally asked a friend, a man who is retired but used to oversee public works in a Lower Mainland municipality, to contact city hall and tell them what he was certain of – that there was raw sewage in the storm drains.

Explains Hays: “I told him it has to come from a man, and someone with credentials, because no one would listen to us.”

Davidson agrees.

“I know they’re the great white hunters and I’m just a woman, but I really had the feeling I was being dismissed as a hysterical female… I spent a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money, with my word being discounted by the city, to fix something that apparently has nothing to do with me. Business owners pay an inordinate amount of taxes and to be treated with such contempt – that we have no idea what we’re talking about, and the smell is our imagination. That’s pretty horrible.”

Still, she was thrilled Friday when informed by the newspaper that action was being taken.

“It’s wonderful that it’s actually going to be addressed. It’s not a minute too soon.”

Just Posted

Carver Bara winds up to throw a pitch at his June 14 game. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
PHOTOS: 15 and under baseballers step up to bat

A June 14 Salmon Arm minor baseball game resulted in action-packed moments

Nash Bredick and Ian Calkins enjoying a ride at a previous Salmon Arm fall fair. (Cameron Thomson - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm fair returns for 2021

Fair takes place Sept. 10-12 and features midway, vendors and special events

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

A key in the lock of a door. (File photo)
Sicamous residents say lack of long-term rentals detrimental to town

A couple who have lived in Sicamous for 27 years and want to stay might have to leave

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read