Mustang to combat sewage smell in neighborhoods

Mustang to combat sewage smell in neighborhoods

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MUSTANG -  The City of Mustang is working to fix a smelly problem that's angered people who live near the town's center.

Public Works employees met with engineers today to draft a plan to update the waste water treatment plant. They believe it will help curb the sewage smell that's covered nearby neighborhoods in recent weeks.

When he moved into his well-manicured neighborhood, Ben VanVacter didn't know his yard would sometimes smell like sewage.

"It would really almost make you sick at your stomach," he said.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality says it's not dangerous to residents but people who live in the neighborhoods near Wild Horse Park say the smell is incredibly unpleasant, and is getting worse.

"The kids notice it when the wind blows right it's pretty strong," said neighbor Julie Brown.

"I think it's kind of a perfect storm of weather," said waste water plant project manager Dennis Merrill, "and storm events that have conspired to make it more odorous than normal."

Merrill blames the heavy rain. He says it overflowed the system, forcing the city to pump raw sewage it couldn't handle into a clay-lined lagoon just feet from homes.

Their short term solution was to pour several tons of sodium nitrate in to the lagoon to promote algae growth.

"They (algae) make oxygen and as long as you've got algae and you've got oxygen you won't get offensive odor byproducts," Merrill said.

A long-term fix, he believes, means adding a third treatment tank to bring the plant's capacity from 2 million gallons to 3 million per day.

In a fast-growing city he says it's needed and would help them avoid the lagoon altogether.

"We were going to need to expand the plant anyway. So from my perspective we kill two birds with one stone ," said Merrill.

Cost estimates for the long-term expansion range between $250,000 up to $1 million. It's an issue voters will likely decide through a bond initiative.

"I will pay for it!" VanVacter said, "I think it's well worth it. Really it's a sickening smell."

Merrill says if the project moves forward it could take three to six months to get the third tank in place.

The DEQ just inspected the plant June 2 and members say it does not pose any threat to the health of citizens who live nearby.

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