Huntington sewer ponds are creating an ongoing odor problem for Lawrence and the residents have had enough.
A group of concerned citizens from Lawrence attended the Castle Valley Special Service District monthly meeting on Aug. 20. They are tired of the odors coming from the Huntington sewer ponds and drifting over their homes in Lawrence. The smell is so bad it wakes them up at night and also makes them ill. One resident said the smell makes eating difficult because it permeates the air and surroundings.
Darrel Leamaster, district manager explained the situation with the sewer ponds. He said the direction of the wind will either take the odors towards Cleveland or Lawrence He said the odors are coming from the number two and three cells. The number one cell has 12 aerators which mix the pond and add oxygen to the pond. Recently Leamaster instructed his crews to turn on all the aerators. One of the problems was only three of the aerators were turned on. At the time all 12 of the aerators were turned on then it was discovered that two of them have motors which are burned up. Ten of the aerators are operating now. There have also been some problems with electricity and the aerators.
Leamaster said the Huntington sewer lagoons were designed and built before the special service district took over. They inherited the ponds and their problems. The ponds rely on bacteria which dissolve the organic materials. Two types of bacteria are present in the ponds. The aerobic bacteria are in the top two feet of the pond and the anaerobic bacteria are below that. The ponds are six feet deep. The aerobic bacteria require oxygen to perform their job and they don't smell, but along the bottom where the anaerobic bacteria resides and there is no oxygen, then that's where the smell comes from.
As the organic material is consumed releases of methane gas and hydrogen-sulfide gases add to the odors present. A thermal current is also present where the bottom sometimes comes to the top and the top layer goes to the bottom. This turn over occurs usually twice a year. The ponds have been there since 1975.
It was wondered by the citizens if the ponds needed to be dredged, but they were told the ponds have been sounded and their depth is six feet and they are not filled with sludge, because that is the function of the bacteria to eat the sludge.
The algae release oxygen which also adds to the health of the pond. If the algae is lost it causes problems, sometimes algae is lost to the red tide which eats the algae.
The board discussed the possibility of adding aerators to the number two cell. The cost for this would be $75,000-$100,000. The district has also been adding more fresh water into the lagoons to aid in odor control.
Board president, Brad Giles said Castle Dale also had this problem and they put aerators in the second pond. The second and third ponds at Huntington are the wrong color.
Commissioner Gary Kofford wondered why these problems have to reach crisis proportions before they are dealt with. He said maintenance should be done on a regular basis.
Giles said he's been on the board for seven years and this is the first he's heard of the problem. The Lawrence residents let him know this has been an ongoing problem for several years.
Leamaster said the running of the 10 aerators currently operable will help with the problem of odor, but won't eliminate it. Five motors for the aerators have been ordered, two to replace those out now and three to have in stock for future mechanical failures.
It was also mentioned that Huntington residents were also complaining about the sewer lagoon odor and the Lawrence residents said it was nice to know, they were sharing the joy of the sewer pond odor. Lawrence residents said they aren't going to tolerate the odor any more and something needs to be done about the problem.
One resident said a permanent solution must be reached. They are suffering for a sewer system which they can't even hook into. "If you can't take care of them, then move them," she said.
The smell is worse in the summer. Efforts need to be made to keep the ponds healthy. The needed bacteria is there to do the job, they just need to be kept healthy.
Jacob Sharp is the new district manager who will replace Leamaster after his retirement on Sept. 11. "Sharp said, "Darrel has filled me in on the history of the ponds and I understand your concern. We will take action. There is not a guarantee that the smell will go away, but we will make it better. We will include the request in the next CIB funding cycle. The requests need to be in by October and the money is awarded after the first of the year and the project can be completed next summer."
The Lawrence residents said they appreciate whatever can be done to alleviate the smell they have been living with for some years.