Foul smell in Fenchurch Street investigated

The Fenchurch Street pump station in Goolwa has a longstanding odour issue.
The Fenchurch Street pump station in Goolwa has a longstanding odour issue.

Alexandrina Council has commended Goolwa residents for their historical patience regarding ongoing odour issues in the area surrounding the Fenchurch Street wastewater pump station, in a recent report.

This follows a deputation made to council on April 15 by resident Noeline Biermann, who highlighted the longstanding issue.

During her deputation, Ms Biermann described the smell emitting from the area as "offensive" and affecting the lives of residents "at all hours of the day."

Ms Biermann collected a petition signed by more than 30 local residents affected by the smell and raised a number of related health concerns with council.

"You cannot escape the smell," she said. "It causes nausea and makes workers want to vomit.

"A 96 year-old resident close to the outlet cannot use her air conditioner, this is a serious issue."

Council have since conducted further investigations into the issue and the report, made available prior to last month's council meeting on May 20, described the matter as "complex and multifaceted."

The Fenchurch Street pump station situated in central Goolwa is part of an "integrated catchment and conveyance network" which includes central and parts of northern Goolwa.

The station is situated in a residential area and is in close proximity to a number of houses, adding to risks associated with the exposure and impacts of malodourous by-products from the conveyance of wastewater to the Goolwa wastewater treatment plant.

The station has had endemic odour issues for a number of years and in her deputation, Ms Biermann suggested complaints had been made for over 16 years.

She also suggested that she and other residents who purchased property in the area, would not have done so, had they been aware of the seriousness of the issue.

According to council's report, Alexandrina's CWMS team recognised the odour as a systematic issue impacting the localised community in 2017, and started an investigation into understanding the problem and developing mitigation strategies around odour management.

This investigation identified a number of key areas that needed to be addressed to identify the root cause of the issue and to provide a solution.

Council has "recently and proactively started applying much more stringent technical investigations to uncover the root cause of the issue to hopefully mitigate the issue at its source."

The investigating team involved employed a number of odour sensors and through this process, it was discovered that the issue "is quite widespread across the network."

The odour in question does not in fact originate at the Fenchurch Street pump station, but is transferred there from other nodes in the conveyance system.

A main driver of odour production through the systems has been found to originate at "the terminal end of the line," two kilometres from the Fenchurch Street pump station in privately owned infrastructure.

Process analysis found that the private infrastructure contains a 25,000L septic tank which collects full sewer from the development and the report noted that "the system has been designed and approved to all statutory requirements."

To date, no material change has been experienced by Fenchurch Street residents, however Alexandrina Council views this as a "significant finding."

Council is now in the process of exploring potential remediation techniques which will likely require "financial and technical resourcing, infrastructure investment and negotiations with private entities."

The report lists an ideal solution as the prevention of odours, however this would require a full design review which could include the removal of the septic system and conversion of the system to full sewer disposal.

Early assessments have investigated re-routing the private pumping main into alternate routes to completely remove flows from the Fenchurch Street network. Such work would require negotiation with the private entity.

Council said residents should be confident that the management of the odour issue was a key focus of the CWMS department and that its intent was to communicate proactively with residents currently impacted.