Council and ANSTO Combine to Uncover Mystery Odour in Como

Published On 06 March 2017 at 04:00 PM

Solving a rather smelly problem around Carina Bay Reserve has brought Sutherland Shire Council’s Environmental Science Unit together with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO’s) Environmental Research Unit to uncover the culprit.

Residents in Riverview Road, Como, reported an unpleasant odour coming from the water in the tidal channel adjacent to Carina Bay Reserve. Council’s Environmental Scientists investigated and recorded levels of Hydrogen sulphide in the channel. They turned to ANSTO’s Environmental Research Team for specialised assistance in detecting and monitoring the gas.  

“Hydrogen sulphide is a gas with a smell of rotten eggs – a pretty unpleasant odour to live with,” said Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce. “We’ve been working closely with environmental research staff from ANSTO to better understand and trace the causes, and what Council can do to stop the smell.”

It’s thought that sediment building up in the channel is preventing it from flushing unless the tidal flow is above 1.8 metres. When the stagnant water is flushed out during periods of high tide, the hydrogen sulphide is uncovered and the smell is released. 

Detecting dissolved Hydrogen sulphide requires specialist equipment and onsite analysis. By working together, Council and ANSTO are developing a greater understanding of the chemical processes taking place in the channel, and are monitoring the regeneration of dissolved hydrogen sulphide. 

“We welcome the generosity and expertise provided by Dr Dioni Cendon, a Hydrogeochemist at ANSTO as well as senior research geoscientist Stuart Hankin and field assistant Chris Dimovski in providing detailed advice and assistance,” said the Mayor.

“We have been working alongside Council and with the field equipment we use for our underground and aboveground water studies across Australia, to measure concentrations of chemicals in the water, and provide Council the information they need to address the issue,” said Dr Cendon.  

Council has engaged hydraulic engineers to redesign the channel to enable regular tidal flushing to return, which will reduce the likelihood of water stagnating and provide relief from odour for adjoining residents.

Monitoring and mapping of dissolved hydrogen sulphide and its relationship with high tides is continuing and this data will assist Council and the hydraulic engineers in determining the best way to improve the ecological condition of the waterway.  

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