Des Moines to fix its 'putrid rotting smell'
Des Moines could soon use scent meters and a threshold system to pinpoint the sources of hundreds of annual complaints generally described as a "putrid rotting smell."
Why it matters: It's a quality-of-life issue that is important for long-term development.
- Odor problems have persisted in portions of DSM for decades and city leaders acknowledged Monday during a council meeting that its current system is not working.
Flashback: The current system generally requires 10 or more smell complaints in a six-hour window before city staffers will try to find the cause. A mitigation plan is required by the violator after three findings in a 90-day period.
- Groups like the Des Moines Downtown Neighborhood Association have for years said the policy is not effective.
- A mitigation plan has not been required in at least 20 years, SuAnn Donovan, the deputy director of the city's neighborhood services department acknowledged during Monday’s meeting.
What's happening: The city council last year commissioned an $83,000 study to help pinpoint and regulate sources of odor.
- Two years of complaints were reviewed and plotted on a map.
- City staffers were also trained in odor science and monitoring as part of the work by RK and Associates of Illinois.
Zoom in: The study pinpointed three "significant odor generators"generally located in industrial areas east of downtown:
- Darling Ingredients rendering plant
- Pine Ridge Farms pork packing plant
- Wiechman Pig Company, a swine buying station
How it works: The new plan would require companies that exceed odor thresholds to submit a management plan to fix the problem.
- An odor expert consultant would oversee the process. Companies that fail to fix the problem could be cited for nuisance violations.
What's next: A formal ordinance and policy could be adopted by the council in the spring.
- City staffers are meeting with the three named businesses to discuss voluntary compliance options.
Of note: The meat producers did not respond to Axios' requests for comment Monday.
Yes, but: Some of the companies are already being cooperative, Donovan said.
- The city's goal is not to shutter the business, she emphasized.
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