City of

District 16

Alder Michael J. Tierney

Image of Alder Michael J. Tierney

Alder Michael J. Tierney

Contact Information

Home Address:

4534 Secret Garden Dr
McFarland , WI 53558

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Tierney’s Updates

Update on Investigation into Foul Odors,

September 21, 2017 4:07 PM

Update on Investigation into Foul Odors,



Since mid-summer several communities on Madison's east side, in McFarland, and Cottage Grove have been experiencing foul odors.  Dane County was made aware of odor complaints in early August, and Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) and the Dane County Solid Waste Division, in cooperation with several other groups, formed a coordinated and on-going response to this issue. PHMDC developed an online survey to investigate the type of odor, frequency of occurrence, and duration of exposures. This survey was distributed via social media channels, where it resulted in over 1,000 completed responses to date.


PHMDC data analysts and epidemiologists performed analysis of survey responses, mapped the respondent addresses for odor exposure locations, and evaluated wind direction patterns to determine all potential sources of the odor complaints. In addition, PHMDC and the Solid Waste Division staff visited neighborhoods, checked out area businesses and local water features, and participated in a Dane County Landfill tour in order to determine or rule out sources of the odor. 


Our continuing investigation of these odors suggests that the landfill may be a source of at least some of the odors. Here is what we are doing to mitigate this situation.


Due to the wet summer we have had in Dane County this year, landfill gasses were produced from the active portion of the landfill sooner than usual and, combined with the recent weather pattern of cool and calm nights, allowed the odor to be more widespread than usual. To address the identified concerns, the Solid Waste Division has been working to reduce the odors by placing additional cover over areas of the landfill to limit gas emissions, installing multiple misting systems to disperse odor neutralizers, and installing additional gas collection wells to capture and destruct landfill gasses. Solid Waste staff are also working with several subject experts to assist with monitoring and mitigation techniques, and to create steps to prevent this in the future.


We acknowledge that the result of the symptoms people havebeen experiencing, like headaches, have caused stress and affected quality of life. Although these odors must be addressed, they are not expected to increase the risk of disease in the impacted communities. From the steps being taken by the Solid Waste Division, we believe that residents should see a significant reduction in odors if they were caused by the landfill. 


Please continue to fill out the odor survey so that PHMDC and the Solid Waste Division know if the newly installed gas collection wells and other steps taken are working. Survey data will also continue to be monitored to evaluate for other odor-causing sources since some reports of odors do not seem to be coming from the landfill. 








Public Health Madison & Dane County

Dane County Solid Waste Division

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