This sight of Tatura resident Tom Matarazzo sitting peacefully in his garden is rare, because for the past 12 months an increasingly unbearable smell has wafted through his backyard from the Goulburn Valley Water tower located down the road.
For the past 20 years, Mr Matarazzo has painstakingly turned his backyard into an entertainer’s dream, filled with trees, birds, outdoor seating and water fountains. The backyard replicates a tropical rainforest.
Having a green thumb and a love for the outdoors, Mr Matarazzo and his wife use the massive space whenever they can and fill it with their family and friends on weekends.
However, last weekend Mr Matarazzo said his guests had no choice but to leave, due to the overwhelming, putrid smell coming from the water tower.
“I had visitors over from Melbourne because we wanted to catch up for a drink before Christmas, but they had to leave, the smell was just disgusting,” Mr Matarazzo said.
“You just can’t bear to eat out there.
“My neighbour can’t even put her clothes out on the line because the smell goes right through them,” he said.
Having called Goulburn Valley Water on numerous occasions Mr Matarazzo was becoming increasingly frustrated and even called on GV Water staff to come around for a barbecue to experience the strength of the smell.
“They said they were working on it then and they’re still saying that to us,” he said.
Mr Matarazzo said his wife complained this time last year because they wanted to host Christmas at their house but were worried about the foul smell.
Goulburn Valley Water operations manager Steven Nash apologised for the smell and said for the past 12 months the company had been constructing a new water treatment plant, which was almost complete.
“Some of the waste water containing algae from the water treatment process is currently sitting in a lagoon, which has a blocked underdrain, meaning we’re experiencing difficulties draining the water away,” Mr Nash said.
“Unfortunately, this algae causes an odour when it dies off, which is what some Tatura residents would be able to smell.”
GV Water said it did not expect the project would cause such a stench.
Mr Nash said workers added a dose of lime into the lagoon on Tuesday to reduce the smell and were working to unblock the drain.
“We also expect we’ll have contractors on site this week to fix the drain blockage so we can remove the remaining water, which means the odour will continue to decrease in the next week or so before dissipating,” Mr Nash said.
“We are planning to refill the lagoons over the weekend, when the construction works are completed.
“This is expected to remove the smell.”
However, Mr Matarazzo's summer garden parties remain in limbo, as GV Water said it would continue to monitor and treat the plant as required.
“If the smell persists, GV Water will pump down the second lagoon and de-sludge the lagoon while wet, which will remove the algae sludge,” Mr Nash said.
“We are confident that the algae will be controlled better through our raw water storages this summer.”