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Source: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

This map shows some of the clusters of Smelt-it reports over the first week of the pilot. Full results will be shared with the public at the end of the pilot.

Timaru residents are helping find the source of unpleasant odours by using the Environment Canterbury this February.

A pilot project, targeting Washdyke and the northern Timaru area, aims to gather better odour information and data using the free website app.

For the past week, Timaruvians have been able to use Smelt-it to easily and anonymously record noticeable odours, which are then investigated by a team in the target zone using mapping technology and odour assessment. In addition, businesses proactively taking part in the pilot are working closely with Environment Canterbury to help identify potential odours as they are reported.

Feedback on Smelt-it figures and results will be analysed and shared with the public and local businesses once the pilot ends. However, our team working on the ground in the Washdyke and northern Timaru area, is already developing a better understanding of the range and nature of odours in the area.

Southern zone delivery lead Brian Reeves said having more ‘real-time’ reports coming through from the public is helping build the big picture of which businesses are emitting different odours at different times.

“Overall, the aim is to reduce odour reaching beyond business boundaries – to reduce the impact these odours have on our community. With Smelt-it, we’re able to collect more data and respond in a timely manner, where possible. The more people that use Smelt-it when they smell an odour in northern Timaru, the more successfully we’ll be able to accurately pinpoint and assess a source.”

Businesses proactively taking part in the pilot are working closely with the team on the ground to help investigate potential odours as they are reported.

The team have also had good feedback about how Smelt-it focuses on the impact on a person’s daily life rather than a numbered scale from good to bad.

“We’re looking for meaningful information – like is the smell bad enough to stop you from enjoying being in your backyard? It’s a much more practical approach to monitoring odour impact,” continues Reeves.

Two public drop-in sessions have also been held, where residents asked questions about the pilot and gave feedback on Smelt-it and their experiences with odour issues in Timaru.

“We had a good turn-out and the level of engagement was high. We’re confident those that came along will be telling all their friends and family to use Smelt-it if they experience a bad odour in the area.”