Our approach to managing odour

Last reviewed:

Our wastewater activities such as the sewage treatment process or pumping stations can sometimes produce smells.

In the past, our activities were normally located away from residential areas. However, with population growth in the South East it has been necessary in some areas to build houses nearer to sewage treatment works.

Reducing and treating odour can be costly and difficult to implement, as work can involve covering parts of these sites and our sewage treatment works were not originally designed for the purpose of minimising odour.

Our performance on reducing odour has improved due to the introduction of odour management plans and the completion of a number of major mitigation projects.

We also have an ongoing programme of identifying and assessing innovative odour control solutions at our sewage treatment works.

A good example of this is our Reading Sewage Treatment Works, which opened in 2005.

It is one of the most technically advanced plants of its kind in the UK, costing around £100m to build, with the majority of the works enclosed to reduce odour.

What we're doing now

A range of activities contribute to our management of odour and can be summarised as follows:

  • Maintaining odour critical equipment and ensuring our day to day operations minimise odorous emissions. This includes undertaking maintenance and improvements at a number of treatment works and pumping stations as part of compliance with best operating practice for odour management.
  • Investment in reducing emissions at Deephams, and five other sewage treatment works close to residential properties.
  • Ensuring any new extensions do not have a detrimental effect on the community.
  • Adding chemicals to sewage in our drains to reduce odour of waste arriving at our works.
  • Trialing real time odour monitoring technologies to provide proactive control.
  • Investigating innovative, low energy ways of treating odours.

Large odour reduction schemes

In some instances, our larger sites are over 40 years old and were built to conventional open tank design. Unfortunately with this legacy some sites can cause odour, however well managed and operated.

Eliminating odour completely on these large sites would be practically impossible. However, we continue to reduce odour as much as we can by focusing improvements on particular parts of the works at a reasonable cost to all of our customers.

Over the last decade we have put in some of the largest odour abatement schemes in the industry including Mogden, Beckton, Long Reach and now Deephams Sewage Treatment Works.

Also in this section

Our responsibilites Environmental policy Environmental assessment Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004 Our approach to managing sewage sludge