Whyalla sense sewer smell solution

The new odour control unit is being strategically constructed on a vacant parcel of land on Billing Street in Whyalla Playford.jpg

Work is underway on the construction of SA Water’s new $4 million odour control unit in Whyalla to improve the management of sewer network odour within hotspot areas of the regional city.

The unit—an intricate system of filters, pipes, and valves—will connect to the sewer network through an existing pipe on Billing Street. There, it can extract and treat odorous gases such as hydrogen sulphide.

A biofilter and activated carbon filters will treat the gases through a staged process, breaking down odorous compounds and removing any remaining gases by adsorption.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Infrastructure Planning and Strategy, Dr Daniel Hoefel, said the unit will reduce odours naturally released from the network to help minimise the impact on local residents.

“While it’s normal for our sewer infrastructure to emit some odour, we make every effort to ensure it’s not noticeable to the community,” Daniel said.

“Over the past few years, we’ve tracked odour movement from our sewer network in Whyalla by deploying sensors to understand which areas experience higher levels and inform potential solutions.

“Through this work and by gaining feedback from the community on localised odour hotspots, we identified an odour control unit as a long-term infrastructure solution to significantly reduce odour emission from our sewers.

“The new unit is being strategically constructed on a vacant parcel of land on Billing Street in Whyalla Playford due to its proximity to a large sewerage pipe. Our odour monitoring pinpointed this as a source of elevated odour. The unit will occupy an area of around 270 square metres.

“More than 2.5 million litres of sewage travel through this pipe daily before it arrives at our local treatment plant. It carries naturally occurring gases such as hydrogen sulphide.

“While safe at the low levels emitted by our sewers, the gases are responsible for creating the unpleasant odour some people may have noticed.

“The odour control unit will connect to the sewer network. It will pull this gas out using two large extraction fans and treat it through a biofilter and activated carbon filters.

“Biofilters harness air to help microorganisms break up organic material in sewage gases, while the carbon filters neutralise smells by trapping molecules through adsorption – eliminating around 99.9 per cent of odour.

“Once treated, clean and odourless air will be released from the unit by a 15-metre-tall vent stack.

“As part of this project, we’re also removing several chimney-styled vents that currently release odour from the sewer network to limit the build-up of hydrogen sulphide, which will further help improve odour management.”

Construction of the odour control unit will be undertaken between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and is expected to be completed by mid-2024.

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