Stratford, P.E.I., hopes to end its smelly problem soon

The town of Stratford, P.E.I., is dealing with a smelly tradition once again this year — the strong stench from its sewage lagoon is very much in the air. 

The town says this is typically the worst time of year for it.

"During June and early July is the typical time that we do see that with our system, we've seen it many years," said Jeremy Crosby, Stratford's director of infrastructure. 

Crosby said as the weather gets warmer, sludge from the bottom can rise to the top, emitting a gaseous odour. 

Laura Meader/CBC

He said this year's colder spring — with many freeze and thaw cycles — may have caused it to linger a bit longer than usual.

'Horrible smell'

A painting crew working beside Stratford's sewage lagoon on Monday said it gets worse every time there's a gust of wind. 

"We could hardly stand it this morning when we got here," said Harvey Stevenson, owner of Coast to Coast Painting.

"We're kind of getting used to it because we're here all day but it's still a horrible smell," he said.

The town's mayor does not deny the smelly occurrence each year. 

"The smell is obviously very bad, you come across the bridge, and you really notice it right away so it's something that's really a problem," said Mayor Steve Ogden.

Smell returns each year

The town has dealt with the stench for years. It installed something called a blue frog system in 2014 to reduce the smell. It has also hired experts to review the problem.

"We do have some natural products that we do add to the system to try and mask the odour, they do work some days, other days when the odours are a bit more extreme, they're not quite as effective as we would like to see," Crosby said.

It's not something that we can live with for very much longer — Steve Ogden

The mayor hopes Stratford can soon replace this lagoon with a pipeline  under the Hillsborough Bridge.

But a recent bid for the project was much higher than expected — double the estimated price — which has led to further delays. 

Laura Meader/CBC

He said town officials are meeting with the representatives from Charlottetown, the province and the federal government in the hope of finding a permanent solution.

The town said the smell should subside in a couple of weeks. 

If funding is worked out soon, the mayor said, pipeline construction could begin in a couple of months.

"It's not something that we can live with for very much longer," Ogden said. 

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