For the past year, consultants have tried to figure out why the neighborhoods around Palm Beach County\’s Southern Region Water Reclamation Plant smelled so foul.
On Wednesday, officials came up with some answers and promised to spend up to $11 million fixing it.
About 50 residents turned out at the Avalon Estates clubhouse to hear the results of the $250,000 Odor Study, conducted by the Palm Beach Gardens consulting firm Jordan Jones & Goulding. The firm recommended a series of changes over the next three years, targeting the aeration basins and headworks scrubber where, the study said, most of the smells come from.
The study saved the county a lot of money, said Larry Johnson, assistant director of the water utilities department. At first, the county had planned to make changes only to the headworks scrubber, equipment that treats the water with chemicals before it goes into the basins.
As it turned out, the football field-sized aeration basins were causing most of the problem.
\”It turns out if we\’d done that, we\’d still have the same kinds of odor problems,\” Johnson said. \”It would have been very little relief for you folks even though we spent a lot of money to do that.\”
The county has $6 million in its budget for the first part of the plan, which should cut the odor by half and shrink the area over which it spreads, starting next year. This includes a construction project to cover part of the basins and treat the air that’s collected.
Bacteria in the basins do most of the work of treating the water in the plant, which can handle as much as 35 million gallons of a day from an area that stretches from Boca Raton to Lantana Road.
If that doesn\’t work well enough, the department could spend another $4 million covering more of the basins and making other improvements to cut the smell to a third of what it is now by 2010. It has not budgeted that money yet, Johnson said.
The department has made some other changes already, adding chemicals to the system that reduce hydrogen sulfide compounds. But that hasn\’t improved the smell. So, now they\’re trying peroxide. The department also plans to monitor the system more closely and clean some of the equipment.
Norman Rosenblatt, who lives in the Valencia Falls neighborhood, has worked closely with officials on the problem and said he was happy with the plan.
“I have a good feeling about that,\” he said. \”And I don\’t usually have a good feeling about anything.\”
One resident of the nearby San Marco neighborhood wanted immediate changes. Judith Bernard said she can\’t sleep anymore because of the odors coming into her house.
“It\’s disgusting,\” Bernard said. \”I can smell it right now sitting here.\”
Officials plan to make the same presentation to Valencia Falls at 7 tonight in that community\’s clubhouse.
SOURCE: Palm Beach Post