Big stink over Shetek stench continuesSLAYTON — Murray County Commissioners, the Shetek Area Water and Sewer (SAWS) Board, engineers and residents from the Lake Shetek area met Thursday afternoon to air their opinions over the stench around two sewer lift stations.
SLAYTON — Murray County Commissioners, the Shetek Area Water and Sewer (SAWS) Board, engineers and residents from the Lake Shetek area met Thursday afternoon to air their opinions over the stench around two sewer lift stations.
Lift stations No. 1 and No. 2, part of the highly debated sewer system around the lake, have been in place for several years. Residents close to the stations have been telling commissioners, SAWS board members and anyone else they can think to tell that the odor from the stations is unbearable. Some have been unable to stay in their homes at times because of the smell.
Carbon filters were added to combat the stink, but residents said the filters weren’t very effective.
Bob Brown of Bolton & Menk, Inc, the engineering firm that designed the sewer system, provided a Power Point presentation of the firm’s latest plan to eliminate odor. After describing the advantages and disadvantages of carbon filters, biological filters and chemical scrubbers, he recommended the latter at an estimated cost of $200,000.
The plan actually includes two phases. The first phase would include submerging each lift station’s inlet piping by adding a downward bend. With the inlet under the wastewater level, the amount of hydrogen sulfide being released into the atmosphere would decrease tenfold, Brown stated.
Samples of the air were taken this week as part of Phase I, and next week monitors will be put in place temporarily to look at and record the intensity of the odors.
Phase I has an estimated cost of $10,000 and can be completed in a month once the go-ahead is given, Brown said.
Phase II could be completed before the July 4 weekend, he added, if the decision to move forward with both phases is made relatively soon.
After watching the presentation, commissioner Bob Moline asked if any consideration was given to moving the lift stations farther away from the lake. Brown replied that it is viable to do so, but wouldn’t eliminate odor. Basically, where ever the stations are located, they will still stink.
“We don’t have a lift station problem, we have on odor problem,” SAWS member Ted Haugen stated. “Moving the stations just creates a problem for someone else.”
Later, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Haugen returned to the subject.
“It isn’t like we haven’t tried (to fix the issues),” he said. “Some of the things we have tried to do have created a problem for somebody else. No matter what we tried, someone was always against it.”
Public comments were limited to residents directly affected be the two lift stations, but because Dennis and Deb Johnson could not be at the meeting, Elmer Brake was allowed to read a letter from them.
In the letter, the Johnsons stated their main concern was about the foul odor.
“We tired of being lied to, laughed at and ignored,” Brake read.
At the end of the letter that touched on the finger pointing that has occurred throughout the sewer process, the Johnson requested that the No. 2 lift station be moved.
Next to comment was Don Haubrich, who described himself as the man with No. 1 in his front yard.
While he doesn’t like having the lift station as a lawn ornament, he said, he is in favor of anything that will take the odor away. “I’m going on four years of smelling that thing,” he said, adding that the noise from the generator is also troublesome. “I’m positive it is above decibel levels approved by OSHA.”
The physical structure of the lift station is causing a problem also, he said, acting as a snow fence and causing large drifts.
Haubrich told the commissioners and SAWS board he plans to ask for a 50 percent devaluation in his property at the next board of equalization meeting, since he can only use his property half the time.
Resident Jeff Barstad also spoke, stating that he had in the past received letters from the county because of snow pile-up. The list stations, he said, are now causing drifts and creating a hazard.
“You guys have a way of screwing things up,” he stated.
He also asked if the county and SAWS were going to continue allowing and paying Bolton & Menk to try different approaches to the sewer problems until they get it right.
Brake spoke up and said he couldn’t understand why hog barns have to be certain distances from roads, waterways and residences, yet human waste could flow 110 feet from a residence.
“I didn’t have any say in where that lift station went,” Haugen stated.
“Well, then, who did?” Brake asked. “Denny wants to know.”
“I’m going to say it was the engineering firm,” Haugen replied.
SAWS board members said they would discuss the presentation at their next meeting and make a decision about whether to authorize both phases of Bolton & Menk’s latest plan.