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Consultant to help fight treatment plant odors

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

Decatur Utilities approved a $30,000 contract with a consultant it hopes will help further reduce odors from DU's waste-water treatment plant.

The contract with ADL Engineering Services calls for ADL to evaluate the plant's design and operation for three months.

Utilities board Chairman Neal Holland Jr. said this is part of the board's commitment to keep odor reduction a top priority.

Interim DU General Manager Stanley Keenum said that in recent weeks the plant has improved the smell dramatically and added, "We're not done yet."

DU expects ADL to provide feedback on processes ranging from long-term sulfate/odor control to nutrient removal. It should lead to design modifications and new operating procedures, Keenum said.

DU used the engineering company recently to help it reduce causes of strong hydrochloric sulfide acid odors (rotten egg smells) that wafted from the treatment plant into nearby neighborhoods.

Cause of stench

Keenum said the odor resulted from excessive sulfates local industries dumped into the treatment system and excessive amounts of ammonia.

Keenum said excessive ammonia from one industry and excessive sulfates from several industries combined to rob oxygen from odor-eating bacteria, diminishing the plant's ability to control the odor effectively.

One of ADL's recommendations was to add two chemicals, such as calcium nitrate, to increase oxygen in the system as well as to add 90,000 gallons of bacteria.

As a result of the recent odor problems, Keenum said, DU officials have met with local industry managers — one general meeting and several one-on-one meetings — to ensure they understand what they can and cannot dump into the system.

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