For some Belgrade residents, the last few months have been somewhat smelly. It's not the coronavirus, but the city's wastewater treatment lagoons. I happen to live close to them, and I love that they call them "lagoons," making it sound like you live next to something exotic rather than the sewer pond that it actually is. Anyway, the thinking around the neighborhood is that the "lagoons" smell because more people were home due to COVID-19, and so they were using their bathrooms more than they normally would. Turns out, though, that's not it.

In a letter released by the City of Belgrade, they are saying that the smell from the "lagoons" is because of a problem with a component of the wastewater treatment. To dial down deeper, the issue is insufficient dissolved oxygen in the cells to support the biology needed to digest the waste. Are you still with me?

Basically, with what I can decipher from the City's letter, there is an issue with their turnover process. It's a natural process that occurs in the spring and fall. The bottom of the "lagoon" ponds, which contain anaerobic materials, rises to the top and releases gasses into the atmosphere. While this is happening, the top of the ponds, which also contains aerobic materials and serves as a water cap to the bottom layer, gets displaced to the bottom. This usually takes about a month, and it's typical to get some "not so nice" odors from it. Unfortunately, this year, one of the "lagoon" cells is not working right, so the fragrance is lingering longer than a month. Like, say, three months.

Here's the good news: The City of Belgrade has already been working on a new sewer--sorry, lagoon--plant. It could be operational in the fall of 2021 with final completion in 2022. In the meantime, the city is working on installing additional aeration which they hope will take away the smell. Yay!

This Monday, the City of Belgrade is expected to declare a state of emergency, which some nights is not an overstatement of the smell, and if that happens, the time-frame of installing the new aeration will happen sooner. Possibly around the end of July. Belgrade residents are keeping their fingers crossed and their noses plugged this happens.

You can read the letter the City of Belgrade sent out to residents about this matter below.

Credit: PW Belgrade/Facebook
Credit: PW Belgrade/Facebook

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