Whanganui's former mayor Michael Laws says the city's waste treatment plant is to blame for a stink that's left residents holding their noses. The foul smell has wafted over the city from ponds at the plant for more than a fortnight.
The source of Whanganui's foul-smelling air is rancid fat sitting in ponds at the plant. Eight companies flush waste into the system and the council still isn't sure which one dumped the extra waste.
But the former mayor says the plant itself is the main problem.
“There is only one failure and it is the council,” says Mr Laws. “The Whanganui Council owes the entire community an apology and compensation for ruining their Christmases.”
The smell is at its worst for the city when there is a southeasterly, but even today with a northerly it still smells like rotten eggs.
Mr Laws has dubbed his city “Ponganui”, and says the waste plant is poorly designed.
Mayor Annette Main admits it needs improving. Currently the council can't measure waste levels of individual companies.
“That is the problem, and that is something that I believe this council needs to address,” says Ms Main. “This council should know what waste is coming from which company at any given time.”
Each local has their own opinion of what it smells like. One says it is “like a toilet that hasn’t been flushed”. Others say it is more like rotting meat or rotting cabbage. In either case, it is not pleasant.
A similar build-up of waste four years ago was flushed into the sea, but Ms Main says it would be illegal to do that again. So Whanganui residents may have to hold their noses for the next few months while the council fixes the waste system.