EVERETT — “Straight-up poo.”
That’s how one commenter on the Nextdoor social media network described a scent that’s been hanging around north Everett the past few weeks.
Beginning in late August, reports of sewage-like smells began flooding Nextdoor forums and other social media. The comments are centered in north Everett and along the Snohomish River.
Kathleen Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Everett Public Works Department, looked into the complaints. There’s nothing from the city’s water-treatment facility that should be causing the smell, she said.
The city has received 13 complaints since August 26.
Similar comments arise at this time almost every year, she said. One theory is that it’s due to low tides both in the bay and in the river.
“When tide is low in the bay, there’s a pretty decent smell coming off the waterfront area,” she said.
Melissa Blankenship, who has a boat at the Everett marina, said she thinks the low-tide theory doesn’t hold up.
“I know the difference between feces and rotting seaweed,” she said. “There’s nothing else that would generate that except for raw sewage going into the water.”
The smell also occurs outside of periods when the tide is low, she said.
Bayside resident Devan Miller said she notices the stench when she leaves for work around 6 a.m. and when she returns.
Monday’s big rain didn’t seem to dissipate the odor, she said.
Some Nextdoor commenters theorized it might be coming from Cedar Grove Composting on Smith Island, which has caused problems in the past, but Miller doesn’t think compost is the cause.
“This really smells like sewage,” she said.
Karen Dawson, director of public affairs at Cedar Grove, said staff don’t believe the odor is coming from their facility.
Lisa Lefeber, deputy executive director at the Port of Everett, said port staff have noticed the smell, as well. They haven’t been able to identify a source, but they point to low tide and high temperatures.
Alberto Corradi, who has worked at the Western Washington Medical Group building next to Naval Station Everett for six years, said he believes the smell is originating from water and waste treatment on the base. For the past three summers, he said the odor has been so bad that he can’t open windows to cool down his non-air conditioned office.
“I have been to outdoor concerts, national parks and RV sewer stations that don’t smell half as bad as what the Navy is producing,” Corradi said. “I thought I would never say it, but it stinks to work down at the Everett Waterfront.”
Sheila Murray, a spokesperson for the Navy, said staff at the base aren’t aware of any odor issues.
While commenters on the Nextdoor website had many theories as to the stench’s origins, there was a common theme.
“I thought one of the kids pooped their pants lol!” one person said. “It was poo,” another wrote.
Many of those subject to the odor looked for culprits within their homes. Pets and loved ones were blamed.
“It caused a sudden but brief interrogation between me and my spouse,” one commenter reported.
The stench even woke some residents sleeping with windows cracked for a breeze in the summer heat.
Complaints on social media began around Aug. 29. Tides at that time were particularly low, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But comments have continued into this week.
A fragrant bouquet is part of Everett’s history. In its past life as a mill town, unpleasant odors wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.
But now a stench seems to be a near-annual event in the months of August and September.
The Herald reported similar complaints in September 2015. City staff weren’t able to track down a source then.
So far, the origin of 2019’s mysterious whiff also remains at large.
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to complain
The city has asked residents to call 425-257-8821 with complaints about the odor so they can track the locations and number of calls.