Page 1349 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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Icon Water—odour control units

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (6.34): ACT government-owned Icon Water has a fact sheet regarding odour control units, published as part of its Belconnen trunk sewer upgrade project. The answer in the fact sheet to the question: “Do they smell?” is absolute: “They are designed to treat odours, so they do not smell.”

Unfortunately, this may not always be the case. Three odour control units exist on the edge of west Macgregor. Two are located within 160 metres of the nearest homes and one of them is only 90 metres away. More than once, residents who live near these two odour control units have told me that they smell like rotten eggs, especially when the days are very hot and the winds blow from the west. A rotten egg smell is consistent with the escape of hydrogen sulphide, which Icon Water notes in its fact sheet is a common source of odour from sewage systems.

Residents in west Macgregor report that when they first built or bought their houses the ventilation stacks attached to these odour control units were much lower. In response to their complaints, the height of the stacks was raised. This has improved the situation, I have been told, but it has not entirely eliminated it.

I raise this matter because the Belconnen trunk sewer upgrade project, which is currently underway, includes the construction of four new odour control units in my electorate of Ginninderra—two in Latham, one in Florey and one in Evatt. Like those in west Macgregor, these four odour control units will be located near residential areas.

I understand from the air quality impact assessment which forms part of this project’s environmental impact statement that computer modelling predicts that emissions of hydrogen sulphide will be within acceptable limits. In fact, the modelling forecast that this noxious gas would be detectable by nearby residents, on average, for less than two minutes each day.

At the same time I note that in a letter to me dated 30 June 2020 the Chief Minister assured me that the odour control units in west Macgregor were “currently operating within design parameters” and that Icon Water had no verified data of an odour problem. In contrast, a few months earlier, one west Macgregor mum assured me that the smell from the odour control unit near her house was so bad on some days that she could not convince her children to play outdoors.

I rise today on behalf of residents in Latham, Florey and Evatt. They are very concerned that they will be exposed to bad odours, as has happened to residents in west Macgregor. I request that the ACT government carefully investigate the complaints from Macgregor residents and, if necessary, use whatever is learnt to amend planning for the four new odour control units that will be built in Latham, Florey and Evatt.

As a local member, I will be monitoring any impacts that the future operation of these units may have on nearby residents, and I will expect the ACT government to be responsive to any concerns that may arise.

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