The Town of Gibsons is apologizing to residents for the odour coming from the wastewater treatment plant over the past week.
Crews had been working to prepare the plant, on Stewart Road in lower Gibsons, for a maintenance shutdown to replace diffuser units in one of the plant’s aeration basins by transferring sludge out of that basin into the plant’s second basin.
According to the Town, diffuser replacements are typically scheduled to take place every five years, but this is the first time it’s been done since the plant’s last major upgrade in 2006.
“In our effort to complete the aeration basin maintenance work in a timely manner, we underestimated the odourous effect that the transfer of sludge from one basin to the other would cause,” the Town said in an update Monday. “We understand your frustration, and appreciate the major inconvenience this may cause to all who are affected.”
The Town said Tuesday that it expected the second aeration basin to be back in operation on Wednesday, and the odour issues to be under control by Friday.
Similar work is planned for the other basin next year, and the Town is promising “a much less intrusive experience at that time since we have now learned several key points that will be put into practice.”
Heavy rain can increase the flow into the plant, making it impossible to take one of the aeration basins off line for maintenance, which is why the Town said it scheduled the work for the summer season this year.
The Town now says it will schedule the work on the other basin for late spring or early fall, while the weather is cooler but the risk of heavy rains is still low.