One smell we could all do without

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sewage plants: why do they still have to smell so bad?

IN some places in Spain there is a permanent and unpleasant smell of sewage

WHEN I was growing up in England in the 50s and 60s, there were a number of constant smells which I can still clearly remember, coal and wood burning, escaping coal gas from gas holders, the smell of yeast and hops from breweries, wax from the candle factory and something I was too young to put a name to from the Gordon’s gin distillery. 

The worst smell however was from the sewage works and if the wind was in the wrong direction, it was strong enough to not only make you gag, but it seemed to insinuate itself into your nostrils and follow you around.

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Now the UK has literally cleaned up its act and most of these smells are long gone, even though the memory still lingers.

In Spain however, this isn’t the case and although I don’t object to the smell of wood, which many houses do still burn as soon as it becomes a little chilly, what I just don’t understand is why, in today’s technological age, sewage plants still have to smell so bad.

In my perambulations, which regularly take me from Malaga to Gibraltar, I pass three areas which always stink, although some days are worse than others. 

The first is by the Rio Fuengirola where there is a permanent and unpleasant smell of sewage. The second is by Elviria, and there the smell permeates around at least four square kilometres, and the third is at the entrance to La Linea, which on a bad day is absolutely putrid.

In 2010 in response to an EU directive concerning the treatment of sewage, the Junta de Andalucia regional government announced 47 projects that were necessary in order to complete the Costa del Sol’s sewage treatment plan. 

“Although a great deal of progress has been made in order to stop the pumping of raw sewage directly into the sea, there is still a long way to go.

These required an investment of some €390 million and needed to be completed by January 1, 2016. Although a great deal of progress has been made in order to stop the pumping of raw sewage directly into the sea, there still seems to be a long way to go before the whole system actually allows local residents to enjoy a peaceful life, without having to smell the results of others’ actions!

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