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County plans more odor-control measures

Relief is a year away for Waxhaw-area residents like Faith Brigham, who for years has tolerated the odor emanating from a nearby sewage-treatment plant.

When Brigham moved with her family to the Quellin subdivision two years ago, she says, the rank smell from the Twelve Mile Creek wastewater treatment plant would force her two children, now 2 and 4, indoors. The odor seemed to intensify when the sky became overcast, she said.

Union County added some odor-control measures in 2007, reducing the frequency of the olfactory invasions to about twice a month, Brigham said.

On Monday, county commissioners unanimously approved $4.8 million in additional odor-control measures at the plant.

“When the smell does rise we're a little frustrated,” Brigham said. “We're looking forward to the fact that (commissioners) passed the improvement.”

Built in 1997, the plant has seen large residential and commercial developments built on land surrounding the 80-acre complex. That includes the Cureton Town Center and the subdivisions of Cureton, Quellin and Prescot. When the treatment plant was expanded in 2007, odor-control systems were installed at the plant's influent pump station and grit facility. But the smell continued to generate nuisance complaints from the surrounding businesses and homes.

The latest measures will include aluminum domes to cover the plant basins. Also on deck is a chemical scrubber system to treat air from waste tanks before it is released into the atmosphere.

The cost originally had been estimated at $1.7 million in the 2007 Capital Improvement Plan. County manager Al Greene said that figure had been “a very preliminary estimate” done before engineering analysis. The escalating cost of concrete, steel and other raw materials further inflated the price tag.

Greene said most of the funding for the odor control improvements – about $3 million – will come from money saved from other capital projects that are no longer planned.

At Monday's commissioners' meeting, representatives of residents and businesses urged the board during the public comments portion to approve the funding to reduce odors. Shortly after, the commissioners approved the measures 5-0, raising a burst of applause from dozens in the audience.