WINNIPEG -- Some residents in Winnipeg's West End are blaming a bad smell in the air on the airport's pond system.

Richard Ducharme, who's been living in the West End for 22 years, said a suffocating smell has recently been wafting over to his house.

He calls the smell "breathtaking" and that in one instance, he had to leave his home because he and his family were gagging. He filed an odour nuisance complaint form with the province but said he isn't expecting much to be done.

"My main concern is the safety and health of everyone in the area," Ducharme said, adding he believes the glycol pond system at the airport is responsible for the odour.

Ducharme says this is the first year he's smelled the ponds in the many years of living by the airport in Winnipeg.

Glycol is the active chemical in deicing fluid used to spray planes in winter to stop ice from forming on key components.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) said the glycol retention ponds could be the cause.

WAA said during a normal year, used deicing fluid at the airport is collected, held in a tank, and then sent to ponds where it is broken down and degraded further.

"The high groundwater table this year requires us to move effluent with higher concentration to the glycol retention ponds to avoid a release to the environment. This has resulted in a more intense odour from the ponds as the effluent degrades," said a WAA spokesperson with on Wednesday. "To add to this, the strong winds we've experienced transfer the odour plume with the wind direction."

The WAA said to mitigate this, the aerators were turned off to contain the odour plume to a smaller area while the effluent degrades. It said it monitors the air around the ponds, and all readings are within normal levels.

The WAA said considers its glycol retention system, which was built in 2005, to be relatively advanced but said it is always looking for ways to improve. Due to the harsh Canadian climate, airports across the country have to deal with deicing.

Edmonton International Airport (EIA) collects its 3.5 million litres of deicing fluid in a similar manner to Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. An EIA spokesperson said they use an engineered wetland system, but they are still occasionally contacted about the smell.

The airport is also running a pilot project and trying a new portable water filtration system.

At the Regina International Airport, the 400,000 litres of deicing fluid it uses annually drains off the main apron and collects in a tank under the apron. It then enters an engineered system that eventually leads to the sanitary or sewage system.

A spokesperson for the Regina Airport Authority said no one has ever complained of the glycol smell, but that is likely due to the fact that there is no ponding.

A spokesperson for the Toronto Pearson Airport said they have the most advanced deicing collection system in the world.

Boasting the largest central deicing facility (CDF) in the world, the spokesperson said it can process up to 500 aircraft in a single day, and during the 2019/2020 winter season, sprayed 16,424 planes.

Each deicing pad is sloped from north to south, which allows the used glycol spray to run directly into special drains that connect to any one of the CDF's massive underground storage tanks. The tanks have a combined volume of 15 million litres. The contents of these tanks are measured, tested, and recycled for use in other markets, all to keep any glycol run-off from impacting the natural environment.

-with files from CTV's Stephanie Tsicos