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Keenum says DU makes progress on sewer odor
Consultant hired by utility links smell problem to biological process at plant

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

Decatur Utilities interim General Manager Stanley Keenum believes the utility is making progress in correcting smell problems at the wastewater plant.

DU formed a team and hired a consultant to investigate why the plant has been having a stink problem that residents could smell throughout the city.

Keenum said the consultant narrowed the problem to the biological process and the bacteria used to break down raw sewage. He said sulfates are going into the plant that are robbing the bacteria of oxygen.

DU crews re-seeded the bacteria and added chemicals that they hope will correct some problems. The utility is changing some of the process inside the primary clarifier in an effort to reduce retention time of the sulfates that cause the smell.

Keenum said DU is using markers to gauge the extent of the smell.

"We've shown a marked improvement in the last three or four days," Keenum said. "The odor is much better and seems to be confined to the plant area. We feel encouraged about the progress we're making."

Keenum said DU is making progress in repairing two hot-water boilers.

These boilers have 182 tubes each, and tubes in both boilers malfunctioned.

The boilers heat sludge taken out of the water before it goes into four digesters, creating methane gas. The boiler tubes quit, however, and stopped heating the sludge.

When a malfunction occurs, workers can burn off some of this gas. But the plant was producing too much sludge, creating a methane release through vents and sending the rank smell into the city.

He said crews fixed one boiler, and work on the second boiler could be complete by the end of the week or the first of next week.

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