Sioux City Looks to Shed Smelly Nickname

Sioux City's trying to shed the nickname "Sewer City." That's why the City Council voted Monday to update the City's odor ordinance.

The City says the update would make it easier to follow through on complaints. It approved the first reading of the new odor ordinance, but there will be two more readings before it becomes official.

The City Council members are the ones who initiated the possibility of an update to the odor ordinance to not only benefit the city but industries that have or will set up shop here.

"I don't think that we're ever going to lose that moniker just based on the fact that that's what this town was formed on, hard slaughterhouse facilities that didn't smell the best but we don't necessarily have to live with it everyday," says Desiree McCaslen, Pre-Treatment Manager for the Sioux City Waste Water Plant.

Derek Bermel, the Assistant Manager of the Valero Gas Station on Dace and Floyd Blvd. says he knows the phrase well.

"I remember as a kid going past those meatpacking plants and I mean I just, you can't have your windows down, you can't. Even if you have your A/C on, it's coming through the vents," he says.

Derek says when it rains you can smell sewage for miles and he says the odor has a direct affect on the gas station's business.

"The slower days are always the days that smell," he says. "People don't want to go around where they have to hold their breath to get inside a gas station from the moment they get out of their car, you know?"

Right now, the City Odor Ordinance requires 10 separate people to call in and complain - the problem is those calls must be received within a 6 hour period of time or it's never investigated.

"The regulation as it stood was almost unattainable. It took too many odor complaints for the city to even get involved," says McCaslen.

The proposed ordinance would require 7 people to complain over a 30 day period but even so, each complaint would be investigated right away. The City says this gives it the opportunity to be pro-active in identifying the industry or business generating the odor and coming up with a plan to get it under control.

"There will be a lot of interaction with the industries and we feel that's the more important part of this, it's not necessarily the enforcement or any penalties associated with it, it's just the interaction and engagement," says Jade Dundas, Sioux City's Public Works Director.

The update ordinance also means a newly formed odor control committee made up of 4 Sioux City residents and 4 industry representatives.

The city says if the odor persists there will be remedial action, even fines.