New approach and the community helps identify Bromley odour issues
A new approach to investigating ongoing problem odours in some parts of Bromley has generated preliminary findings that will help identify sources of problem odours. This story was first published on 21 May, and has since been updated to include a detailed video of the study, its findings and next steps, below.
Environment Canterbury, with the support of the Christchurch City Council and the Bromley community, carried out a pilot study in March 2020. It saw residents reporting odour via a 'Smelt It' reporting app, with reports then cross-referenced with weather conditions and onsite observations.
Environment Canterbury Operations Director Nadeine Dommisse said the study identified Christchurch City Council-run facilities Living Earth and EcoDrop as significant odour emitters. The two councils had worked closely throughout the study, and Christchurch City Council had welcomed the findings. Both councils would work together to address any problems related to these two public facilities as quickly as possible.
"We know this has been an issue for Bromley residents for a long time and it hasn’t been an easy one to resolve. Tracing odour is a complex issue and the usual methods councils use to track odour simply didn't work in Bromley. The variables involved include the number of potential sources, wind, weather, temperature, timing, distance, topography, and sometimes even a combination of odours, all making it difficult to pin down what residents were describing, and where an odour might be coming from," she said.
"Over the last few years we've systematically worked through a process, talking to residents, mapping odour-emitting businesses and other work, which has culminated in the pilot study."
New data gathering approach
Dommisse said the pilot study took a new approach, using reports from the community via a mobile app, and an independent odour assessor. Those reports were compared to wind and weather information and site operational data provided by the Christchurch City Council.
"These three datastreams enabled us to bring together odour reports, the physical impact on residents and the likely location at the same time. It’s given us a compelling picture we've not had before, and a new way to investigate these sorts of issues. We're very grateful to the Bromley community and the Christchurch City Council for their support. Together we've been able to develop the information we need to finally make a difference."
Collaborative plan to address odours
Dommisse said Environment Canterbury will work closely with the Christchurch City Council to progressively address the issue with Living Earth and EcoDrop. Environment Canterbury will continue to work with other odour emitting businesses in Bromley and further investigate the possibility that some odours were combining to create a worse one.
"The Bromley community remain a vital part of the solution. We need them to continue to report odours so we can tell if progress in reducing odours is being made or not.
"A collaborative approach will produce faster results for affected residents. We can now better identify where problems can occur in certain conditions, potential emitters, and address them. While we have identified the Christchurch City Council-run facilities as being significant emitters, we will also be working with other odour-emitting businesses in Bromley to ensure they are managing odour appropriately."
Beyond the pilot
Christchurch City Council Head of Three Waters and Waste, Helen Beaumont, said the Council welcomed the pilot study findings.
"Environment Canterbury's pilot study findings are an important step in determining what's causing the offensive odours in some parts of Bromley. The study indicates the EcoDrop transfer station and the Living Earth composting plant facilities are significant contributors to the odour issue.
"We appreciate our community will want action and we'll be working with Environment Canterbury to determine what immediate actions, other investigations or further information might be needed to address the issue. We'll also be taking a proactive approach working with Living Earth and EcoDrop to share technology, best practices and initiatives to help further improve our processes."
Find out more
See the full findings, and next steps, in our video on the background of the Bromley odour management study; the pilot outcomes and action plan for the next three months (12:20).
Learn more about the pilot and using Smelt It with our frequently asked questions below.
We need to know where you were when you notice the odour and at what time.
We will then use wind direction and dispersion models to narrow down potential sources using a scientific approach.
Please see the FAQs on the Smelt It tool for information.
Alternatively, you can call 0800 324 636 and talk to one of the team for help.