Seine River stink linked to retention ponds


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Stinky retention ponds are being blamed for an intense smell at a portion of the Seine River through much of last week.

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Stinky retention ponds are being blamed for an intense smell at a portion of the Seine River through much of last week.

Lynn Murphy, who regularly walks in the area, at first feared a sewage spill caused the unpleasant odour at the footbridge near John Bruce Road East.

“It just smells like a sewer, like when you have sewer gas coming up… from a drain when a stack has been frozen,” said Murphy. “It’s kind of localized. It’s only when you go through the entrance (to the Spirit Woods) near that bubbling, kind of babbling brook where the smell is (prominent).”

Supplied The John Bruce East entrance to Bois -des-Esprits.

However, the culprit isn’t a sewage overflow or spill, according to the City of Winnipeg.

Recent odours at the Seine River site were the result of nearby retention pond water mixing in with the river, said a water and waste spokesperson.

“Melting retention ponds can behave a bit like a marsh, where a ‘rotten egg’ odour can occur when the snowmelt mixes with the pond water that has been stagnant all winter. That pond and snowmelt mix then makes its way through the land drainage system and is eventually released into our waterways, with the odour coming along for the ride,” Lisa Marquardson said Monday in an emailed statement.

Murphy said she believed the smell grew fainter near the end of last week, adding she was relieved the river was not affected by another large sewage spill, after news of a major release into the Assiniboine River that began March 16.

Marquardson noted retention ponds have been built in communities across Winnipeg to serve a few different functions, including: storing runoff that could otherwise overload the sewer system; accommodating snowmelt and heavy rain; and filtering out pollutants (such as fertilizers, automotive oils, street salt or animal waste) before they enter rivers and streams.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.


Updated on Monday, March 28, 2022 2:15 PM CDT: Photo added.

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