By Melissa Scheffler
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:50 PM CDT, September 11, 2012
Wichita's waste water treatment system is made-up of four plants. The oldest and largest is in South Wichita, at Hydraulic and 57th. “Plant Two" treats 30-million gallons of raw sewage a day. And, it's generating a handful of complaints about the smell.
If Ike Hathaway knew how badly his South Wichita neighborhood smelled, he might have made a different decision in 1991.
"When I was looking at the house to buy it, who knows, it's possible I may have decided against buying,” Hathaway said.
Hathaway lives just north of Plant Two. He says its smell dips and peaks. And last week, it was really ripe.
"It's just a nasty sewer smell,” Hathaway said.
Hathaway complained to the city. The city says it received four complaints last week about Plant Two. That makes-up half the complaints taken this year from the entire system.
"We did discover one of the lines we put a chemical additive in at the plant with to control the odors was plugged. And we also found a filter that needed some attention,” Don Henry said.
Henry is the Interim Assistant Director of Public Works and Utilities. He says the city fixed those problems and added more of the odor reducing additive. Plus, hydrogen peroxide will be put in the system.
"Right now, it's better than this weekend,” Hathaway said.
Thanks, in part, to Hathaway's complaints.
"Well, when you work here every day, human nature you come accustom to the odor,” Henry said.
The city relies on your feedback, because no agency regulates the smell. However, KDHE does regulate the water that comes out of the plant. Factfinder12 checked with KDHE. During the past five annual inspections, it found five "minor" issues at Plant Two. KDHE says there are no outstanding issues right now.
"The effluent that's discharged into the river is clean and doesn't have any odors,” Henry said.
Some of Hathaway's neighbors say they're smelling the difference.
"Now that they've started with the chemical treatments and stuff like that you know, I just don't think it's all that bad,” Jim Brummett of South Wichita said.
But Hathaway just wants a chance to take in the smell... of fall.
“I would like to be able to open my window and enjoy the fresh air,” Hathaway said.
The city spent more than 260-thousand dollars last year on additives to help reduce odors for the entire system. More chemicals could be added to help the smell. But that would cost an additional 15-thousand-dollars a month.
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