Pollution from a Wastewater Treatment Plant in Los Álamos, Chile

Summary of pilot

Los Álamos is located 700 km south of Chile's capital Santiago. The waste water treatment plant (WWTP) is located very close to residential areas that face odour problems for more than a decade.

The situation

The water utility has made investments in odour abatement systems and enhanced the operation of the WWTP, but still potentially impacts 1,000 residential houses, kindergarden and a school. Improvements were acknowledged in the past, but still some 300 homes are strongly impacted by odour emissions.

D-Noses role and aims

D-Noses selected this location due to prior odour studies conducted in the area. The WWTP operator aims to further reduce impacts of the facility but needs more specific information. Local stakeholders were identified by active mapping strategies in the field. Early engagement focused on neighbourhood organizations.

Progress so far

The pilot preparation phase was concluded by end of Nov. 2019. The data collection phase (more than 3000 regular scheduled observations) ended in April 2020 due to the Corona pandemic. The data analysis allowed us to identify odour episodes. Odour impacts are more common in the mornings and evenings and decline towards the cooler seasons. A pumping station was identified as the mayor emission source rather than the WWTP itself. Results have been communicated and discussed with stakeholders, but due to the pandemic situation, lockdown, travel and meeting restrictions, it was not possible to hold meetings with joint participation of stakeholders.

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