|The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) repository holds full-text theses and dissertations submitted for higher degrees at the University (including submissions from former Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon).|
An assessment of the management of odour at the Athlone wastewater treatment works, Cape Town
¹Odour nuisance is increasingly becoming one of the major environmental problems in various countries across the world, especially odour associated with wastewater (Alfonsin et al., 2015; Schlegelmilch et al., 2005; Gostelow et al., 2001). As a result, the management of odour from Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) has become one of the environmental challenges besetting these facilities in recent times. The dispersion of odour across the physical boundary of wastewater treatment facilities presents not only negative environmental impacts to the natural environment, but also constitute a nuisance to surrounding populations. The Athlone (WWTW) located in the urban City of Cape Town with high demographics and adjacent to sensitive communities is thus not immune to poor air quality associated with WWTW activities (Walton, 2005). The population growth due to rural-urban migration has further put severe pressure on the facility and thus worsening the odour problem in the area. As a result, complaints have been received by the City Council from the surrounding communities over the last 20 years. In response to these complaints, the management of the WWTW introduced an odour management system with a particular focus on the use of a biotrickling filter coupled with the use of odour masking sprays. This management intervention was adopted in order to control the odour emitted to the atmosphere from the facility (WWTW). While these measures are said to reduce the prevalence of odour to the surrounding environment, it was, however, not clear whether or not such management interventions have reduced odour emitted from the treatment plant. This research was premised on two postulations as an approach to analyse the effect of the odour management plan adopted by the Athlone WWTW’s management and these are: 1) the perceived experience of odour by the adjacent neighbouring communities and, 2) the understanding of the inherent atmospheric dynamics (such as wind velocity, atmospheric stability, inversion layer and ventilation) which influence odour dispersal in the area. The research project argues that these two factors should be taken into account to ensure that the management of odour is sustainable. It is within this background that the research aimed at assessing the management of odour at the Athlone WWTW and to find out, if at all, the inherent local atmospheric conditions in the area and views of the surrounding communities are incorporated into the management of odour from the plant. The methodological design adopted in the study was case study approach. However, the atmospheric data (wind speed and direction) was obtained from the South African Weather Service (SAWS). These variables were analysed qualitatively and experimentally by the use of wind diagrams to provide insight on 2atmospheric stability conditions, surface inversion and topographical properties, and how these phenomenon influences odour dispersion. The study also reviewed previous odour management reports produced by the Althone WWTW management. This type of data was finally supported by data collected from the community by means of a community survey, face-to-face in-depth interviews and qualitative observation. Some major findings from the study revealed that the local weather of Athlone influences the dispersion of odour – facilitating dispersion in the summer through high wind velocities, while impeding dispersion during winter due to the presence of atmospheric stability conditions. Prevailing odours in this community has led to a general feeling of displeasure amongst community members especially since the management of the treatment plan does not include the local community in the decision-making process. In spite of these, the facility’s management approach was found to be more of a response driven nature even though it is ranked as a high-risk facility.