Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 8:15 pm | Fair 64º

 
 
 

Santa Maria Odor Complaints Prompt Search for Source

Santa Maria Utilities Department staff members responded this week to more than a dozen odor complaints from residents throughout the community about a rotten egg smell. The source or sources have not yet been identified.

After on-site investigations at multiple addresses and sewer manholes, the staff concluded that the odors are not being generated from municipal sewer pipes or the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The staff requested assistance from two public agencies. The city contacted the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, which will respond when more than five calls are received, and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

Possible culprits, alone or combined, could be agricultural pesticide spraying, fertilizer applications, irrigation with sulfurous water, or even very dry weather drawing sewer gases down to street level from rooftop vents.

Of the complaints received by the city this week, some were from the Westgate development and others were from neighborhoods in the northwest area. City staff checked them all out and concluded that none of the odors was generated by the sewers. All areas have fields nearby that have posted notices about spraying in preparation for strawberries.

The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office staff informed the city that excessive odors can be generated during spraying when the applicators do not use sufficient water during application.

Another potential culprit could be recent winds with very dry air drawing hydrogen sulfide gas (which smells like rotten eggs) up and out of residential rooftop sewer vents. Then these gases may sink back to ground level because they are heavier than air. This seasonal phenomenon has been experienced in other communities in the fall, such as in San Diego County.

Residents who smell objectionable odors can call the APCD at 805.961.8800. The city will supply the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office with addresses of residents making odor complaints to the city, so that the staff can follow up with the permit holders conducting agricultural spraying.

Questions may be directed to the Utilities Department at 805.925.0951, ext. 7416.

Mark van de Kamp represents the Santa Maria city manager’s office.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.