BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – For years, the community has begged the city of Baton Rouge to do something about the rancid smell that comes from industrial plants, including the East Baton Rouge Water Treatment plants. On Wednesday, East Baton Rouge Metro Council voted unanimously to pass a new ordinance to stop the smells.

Debbie Surtain has lived in the Gardere area for 17 years.

“It just smells like a foul sewer smell, the stench is really bad,” Surtain said while sitting on her front porch drinking her morning coffee.

Surtain can see the Baton Rouge Wastewater Treatment Center on Gardere Lane from her doorstep. After years of dealing with this, she feels abandoned by the city.

“We’ve been complaining for years about the smell and nothing has been done,” said Surtain. “It makes me feel like they don’t care, that’s what it makes me feel like. We are not important that we have to live like this … And I know that they can say we can move out, but you can’t afford to move out.”

This plant is just one of the offenders in Baton Rouge emitting offensive smells. The ordinance encompasses any facility, business or person giving off strong smells.

“It could be a neighbor, it could be a waste water treatment plant or it could be a private industry, no one is excluded,” said Metro Councilman Darryl Hurst.

A new ordinance passed by the Metro Council creates a path for residents to file complaints about the odor. After a complaint is filed, the offender will be issued a warning notice for the first offense. If they don’t fix the problem in 15 days, they will be fined $1,000. For the second, third and fourth offenses, the fine increases by an additional $1,000. If five offenses happen within a year with no sollution, they will be fined $500 each day.

“We don’t have the ability to shut the business down, but we can hit you where it hurts, which is in your pockets,” Hurst said.

To monitor the smell, Hurst said a tool called an olfactometer will be used to determine the level of odor that lingers in the air.

Executive Director Gardere Initiative Murelle Harrison is excited for the new legislation.

“Sometimes the stench from the sewage plant is just unbearable so we are really really pleased about what happened last night,” said Harrison.

But residents like Surtain aren’t convinced this will make much of an impact.

“This is people’s lives at stake so it should be something that’s more strongly than what they are doing,” Surtain said.

There are still some loose ends with how this ordinance will be regulated, but Harrison said she is ready to step up for the community and file complaints the next time the grotesque smell wafts in.

“Because we represent the people in this community and it will take a while for the residents to understand that they have that option and so we will be the persons to represent them,” Harrison said.