Are Residents Complaining About the Odor from the Wastewater Plant?

The Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) provides flood control and sewage systems for Louisville, KY (Jefferson County). MSD treats About 153 million gallons of wastewater every day, serving more than 600,000 people in this booming area of Kentucky. Forest Springs is a family oriented neighborhood of almost 600 homes in eastern Jefferson and is served by the MSD sewer system. The neighborhood is known for its beautiful and peaceful surroundings, as well as its convenient and easy access to metropolitan Louisville.

When residents started complaining about bad odors at the end of a street in the Forest Springs neighborhood, MSD launched an investigation and found that the odors were caused by a hydrogen sulfide buildup in the sewer upstream of a pump station. The buildup gases were released at a wet well connected to the pump station, as well as a manhole next to the Forest Springs neighborhood. Louisville MSD contacted odor control consultants to provide the best solution to the issue. Louisville MSD’s project engineers teamed up with Purafil to develop a system that met the neighborhood’s needs at a competitive cost. Since the initial installation, no more complaints of bad odors have been reported from the Forest Springs neighborhood.

Battling Odors: Big Cities and Small Towns
Bad odors from water and wastewater treatment facilities aren’t unique to Louisville, and the causes and solutions are typically complex. For some communities, private industries such as egg processing facilities or industrial farms are the culprits, while in others the municipal systems are the cause. Regardless of the source, the fact is that cities from San Francisco, California to Atlanta, Georgia are in a nearly constant battle against a host of complex and unpleasant chemical reactions.

How Do Odors from Wastewater Plants Start?
So, why is it so hard to keep the water smelling good (or preferably not smelling at all)? It’s important to remember that all treatment facilities have the potential to generate odors. In most cases, the root cause of the smell is an anaerobic, or septic, condition where the oxygen flow to the water or wastewater is limited. When that happens, microbes can thrive which give off hydrogen sulfide, AKA “the rotten egg smell”. Biosolid (domestic sewage) processing is another potential contributor to odors as it has the potential to throw off several irritating compounds. Emptying of septic trucks, which is typically concentrated at the end of the work day, is another contributing factor. And even the dew point can play a role in perpetuating nuisance smells as odors can be trapped closer to the ground when there’s more moisture on the air.

Purafil’s Solution for Odor Control
So how does Purafil help wastewater treatment plants and their neighbors? Typically, the solution involves three steps: selecting the appropriate media for odor control; installing air scrubbers that are specifically engineered for pump stations, wet wells, and similar wastewater treatment areas; and providing ongoing, complimentary chemical media analysis to ensure continuous odor elimination.

Media Selection
As for selecting the appropriate odor control filtration media, Purafil typically recommends OdorCarb Ultra for common applications. Highly effective at removing 0.30 grams (g) of odorous hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) per cubic centimeter (cc) of media, OdorCarb Ultra has been formulated specifically for odor control systems in wastewater treatment applications. Contact Purafil for precise media recommendation suited for your specific environment.
Learn more about Purafil Media

For the final phase of odor abatement, Purafil offers a range of air scrubbers for any air flow or odor concentration. Purafil’s Wastewater Treatment Drum Scrubber is engineered to meet the specific demands of wastewater treatment facilities, pump stations, lift stations, wet wells, and force mains. Constructed of corrosion-resistant materials and requiring essentially no maintenance, the Drum Scrubber can be used in remote outdoor areas or zones where high levels of acid gases are present. The scrubber consists of layered beds of chemical media with optional add-ons such as passive configuration, silencers, mist/grease eliminators, and rain hoods.
Learn more about Odor Control Air Scrubbers

Media Life Analysis
By performing a complimentary analysis of media samples from the air filtration system, Purafil’s in-house laboratory technicians can project the life cycle of system media, make suggestions to improve system performance, and ensure that unpleasant odors never break through to the surrounding areas.

We Can Help
If you live near a wastewater facility with an odor control issue or operate a wastewater facility with this issue, we know it can be frustrating. It’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, in almost every case you can be sure that the operators of the facilities are just as anxious to solve the problem as you are – many people who work in these facilities are also your neighbors. Secondly, determining the root cause of the odors can be time-consuming, complicated, and costly. The problems typically won’t be solved overnight. That said, when community members get involved, and when wastewater facilities are motivated to address the issue, Purafil is there to help.

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