Sewer plant expansion should help with smell

People traveling down East Fifth Street near Carson City's Wastewater Treatment Plant might want to stop and smell whatever they want after an expansion project there is completed - within three years.

Among planned improvements will be a cover for the headworks section of the plant. This is where the wastewater enters the treatment plant, and is currently the most malodorous area.

Though there are homes and apartment units downwind from the plant, most complaints come from people simply making their way through the area, said Tom Hoffert, public works operations manager.

"It's usually people driving by who can smell it," he said.

Alice Hamilton has lived on Aquifer Way, near the plant, for 15 years. The smell from the plant has decreased over time, she said.

"We don't smell it very often anymore," she said. "It used to smell in the mornings."

Her son Tim, who also lives in Carson City, said he thinks work done on the plant a few years ago greatly improved odor control.

"I can only smell it when I drive by," he said. The on-site ponds - gone now - "were worse."

Another Aquifer Way resident, Teresa Martin, has only smelled the plant from her home once in 20 years. She believes that an inversion layer helped the smell linger that time.

But, she too, drives past the plant frequently.

"I go by it to and from work," she said. "That's when I smell it."

The scent comes from inorganic materials people send down their toilets and drains that have to be removed from the wastewater before it can be further treated. Not only do these items add to the stink; they also add cost to the processing of the wastewater, Hoffert said.

Other upgrades planned during the next three years include enhancing aeration basins for a higher-quality effluent - so it can be used in a wider variety of ways - and increasing security of the facility.

Estimated cost of the total project is $16 million, Hoffert said.

Separate from this is the required improvement of water quality in the Carson River at the Brunswick Reservoir. Treated wastewater is seeping into the river from the reservoir, and the city is monitoring water quality there.

Seepage from the reservoir into the river has increased to 2,000 acre feet per year, according to previous reports. The maximum nitrate level allowed for drinking water by the federal government is 10 mg per liter or less.

Nitrates are the substance of most concern in the Carson River. Monitoring of its water will continue well into 2006. The Board of Supervisors will be presented with the results and options for solving the nitrate problem - if necessary - midyear, Hoffert said.

The city has previously said that most of the nitrates are being naturally filtered out of the treated wastewater by the time it flows down the river and passes through the springs below the reservoir.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at 882-2111, ext. 215, or

Don't rush to flush

• The city offers residents chances to appropriately dump hazardous waste items throughout the year. Residents can also make appointments for disposal of items.

• Businesses aren't allowed to participate in free residential disposal events.

For information, call 887-2355.

Some of the things that shouldn't be flushed down toilets or sent down drains:

• diapers

• grease

• baby wipes

• tampon applicators

• cigarette butts

• fuels

• cleaning products

• chemicals

• paints

• drugs

• pesticides

• "flushable" toilet scouring pads and brushes

- Source: Carson City Development Services


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