Smell emitting from Swan Lake described as ‘death’

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 4:11 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - On the south end of Swan Lake where we did our interviews there was no odor detected.

But one resident describes it like this.

“Death,” says Tammy Holt-Still a Lemmon Valley resident.

Indeed on the north end of Swan Lake, the flood waters of 2017 have greatly receded.

In their place dry and cracked ground followed by red algae some dry some still floating in the water. At first, it smells like rotting fish. But as the wind changes it does smell like an open toilet that’s never been flushed.

A look on the Lemmon Valley Community Page, the pungent odor has not gone unnoticed. Some describe it as a septic tank, poop, and rotten eggs.

Holt-Still says all of those descriptions fit because the water is coming from two sewer plants, one from the city of Reno, the other from Washoe County.

“The Washoe County Sewer Plant discharges C affluent. The Stead Sewer Plant discharges A affluent,” says Holt-Still. “Both are harmful to the touch. But when you mix the two you still have pollution,” she says.

A check with Washoe County; they say they’ve only received two complaints about the smell on their 311 line. There are efforts they say to locate the source.

Washoe County Health District says they received no calls about the smell. But if asked to do so the district will send investigators to Swan Lake to see if there is an environmental hazard.

Calls to the city of Reno went unanswered

County Commissioner Jeanne Herman says she’s traveled throughout the area and depending upon the wind speed and direction determines who gets the worst of the smell out here in Lemmon Valley.

She’s calling for a serious inquiry.

“It needs an explanation,” says Herman. “The people deserve it.”

It’s not known if the city or county can do anything about the smell. But if the fumes are dangerous? That’s another story.

We’ll keep you updated.

In a statement to KOLO 8 News Now, the City of Reno says: “Reno Direct has not received any correspondence regarding odors coming from Swan Lake.”