Water Pollution Control Plant (Sewage Treatment Plant) and Odours - Q & A

Why do I smell the Water Pollution Control Plant sometimes?
The sewage treatment plant treats sewage for all of St. Thomas and surrounding areas which is  40,000+ residents.  There will always be some odour associated with the treatment of raw sewage.  Weather and wind direction have a major impact on when odours may be detected from various local sources. 
Are there other sources of odours in St. Thomas and surrounding area that I might be detecting?
Yes.  Other common odour sources include local area farms spreading manure, odours from local area landfills, and garbage/compost collection can also be detected from time to time
What should I do if I smell odour from the Water Pollution Control Plant?

Odour from a sewage treatment plant is normal and unavoidable. Any received reports of odour are forwarded from the St. Thomas Customer Service Request System to the Water Pollution Control Plant for evaluation. City staff document the report and survey the Water Pollution Control Plant often including the street address where the report was received in order to document any direct sources of odour.  City staff are  then required by law to forward any complaints to the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks for their records 

Should I also call the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks?
No. Every odour complaint is already documented and reported to the MECP by City staff.
Why not move the Water Pollution Control Plant to another location away from the City?

The Water Pollution Control Plant is a 200 million dollar publicly owned (by the City of St. Thomas) and operated complex asset that serves all the sewage treatment needs of all 40,000 residents of St. Thomas and surrounding area. The process requires a location close to a creek in order to discharge the cleaned water.  The Water Pollution Control Plant is already strategically located in a low area at the edge of the City near a water course where it has been located for over 100 years. 

Can anything be done to minimize odours from the Water Pollution Control Plant?
Daily activities are directed toward optimizing the operation of the Water Pollution Control Plant and reducing odour.  This includes ongoing routine cleaning of the plant and technological innovations to reduce odours as much as possible.  City Staff considered various initiatives to improve odour control and reported to council in ES 37-19. Council approved numerous operating and capital improvements to mitigate odours. To read the full report click here
How much sewage is there?
Sewage is produced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year long from 40, 000 St. Thomas and area residents.  This equates to about 7 billion liters of raw sewage per year.  Sewage is full of dangerous microorganisms including viruses and bacteria and it must be fully treated using advanced technologies until it is clean water that can be returned to the creek.  In St. Thomas, the waste that is processed from the sewage is then converted into a Canadian certified fertilizer that can be purchased for farm use.



Water Pollution Control Plant

The St. Thomas Water Pollution Control Plant is a conventional activated sludge plant that treats wastewater (sewage) from the City of St. Thomas and the surrounding area. Wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial areas flows through the sanitary sewer systems and 12 sewage pumping stations to be collected at the Water Pollution Control Plant for treatment. With a rated average daily capacity of 27,300 cubic meters per day, the wastewater is treated and released to Kettle Creek under the strict requirement of a Ministry of  Environment - Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA). The Water Pollution Control Plant is operated by trained and certified Wastewater Operators and inspected routinely by the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that Environmental Standards are being achieved.

St. Thomas Water Pollution Control Plant Biosolids Management Options

Summary of St. Thomas WPCP Biosolids Options Evaluation

Storm Sewer System

The City of St. Thomas Storm Sewer System consist of a series of roadway catch basins, manholes, pipes, drainage ditches, storm water treatment units and storm water retention ponds that direct rainwater and runoff into our local Creeks. These systems are for rain water and snow melt only and should not be confused with the Sanitary Sewer System. There are over 1500 storm manholes and 3500 storm catchbasins throughout the City of St. Thomas.

Sanitary Collection System

The City Sanitary Sewer System is a series of pipes and pumping stations that transport sewage to the St. Thomas Water Pollution Control Plant. The system is connected to homes and businesses throughout the City of St. Thomas and consists of 12 Sewage Pumping Stations, over 2300 manholes and 180 km of pipe. The Sanitary Sewer System is for sewage only. Rain water and runoff into the sanitary system must be minimized in order to provide adequate capacity for the City's sewage needs. The Sewer Systems are routinely inspected, cleaned and maintained by trained and Certified Sewage Collection System Operators.