DES MOINES, Iowa -- If you live in the Des Moines metro area, you've probably noticed an unpleasant smell in the air. The City of Des Moines says it has received dozens of calls on its odor control hotline from people complaining about the smell. In response, the city sent out a team of inspectors to try to identify the source of the odor. City officials say the inspectors identified the odor as probably manure or a spread on farm fields to the northwest of the city.
"What's happening is its traveling through the air, and down the city," said SuAnne Donovan, neighborhood inspections zoning administrator for the city. "And most likely, we`re in some sort of an air conversion, where the air is stagnant over the city. And, so it's just sort of holding it instead of dissipating over the city, like it normally would do. So, it's pretty much encompassing the metro area."
But the Executive Director of the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, Brian Waddingham, says because there are no livestock farms close to the metro, he thinks it's unlikely that the smell is coming from manure.
"Just based on the proximity of where farms are located near the metro, you really almost have to go out about ten miles to get to a livestock farm," said Waddingham.
Instead of manure, Waddingham believes the odor people are smelling is likely a natural occurrence.
"My best guess is probably a combination of factors this time of year," said Waddingham. "But, especially relating to cooler air temperatures, warmer ground temperatures, as well as the high amount of rainfall we received in the month of October, combined with the leaves falling off trees and just water that has been sitting for the last several weeks. That water is now drying up, it’s starting to expose some of that vegetation that’s been under water. Those odors are caused by the anaerobic breakdown of organic matter and proteins from those different sources. So, I just think that's probably what's to blame."