Craig resident disgruntled with sewer lagoon odor |

Craig resident disgruntled with sewer lagoon odor

Thompson Hill home owner takes summertime odor protest to Craig City Council

Christina M. Currie

— Thompson Hill resident Rena Olsen wants to get the ball rolling on a complaint that has lasted for 10 years. She wants the Craig City Council to place on the top of its list of priorities alleviating the odor from the sewer lagoons.

Olsen appeared before the Council Tuesday night representing some Thompson Hill residents. She didn’t want to bombard Council with people on the group’s first request, but said she is willing to bring the entire group.

Each spring and summer, sludge stored in ponds on Thompson Hill melts and when the wind is right, creates a stench that wafts through the homes on Thompson Hill. According to Olsen, there have been several days this summer when her mother, another Thompson Hill resident, could not leave her house or open her windows because the odor was so bad.

“To me, you affected her quality of life,” Olsen said. “I ask you to make this a high priority. We’ve been patient and we’re tired of it.”

Olsen said that for one-quarter to one-third of the summer, Thompson Hill residents “live in an outhouse” because of the smell.

City Council and city staff members have been taking calls from angry residents since 1989. In 1992, residents gathered 81 signatures of people asking the city to correct the problem.

The city has made several attempts over the years to quell the stench, but none were effective.

According the City Engineer Bill Earley, the city has come to the end of its rope for cost-effective solutions and now believes the only solution comes with a huge price tag.

Purchasing aerating tanks that would allow the city to keep the sludge for a longer period of time before moving it to the sewer lagoons looks like the only option remaining. And that option comes with a $1.7 million price tag.

“We’ve pretty much done everything we can with the existing equipment,” Earley said. “We can’t fix it without a large capital outlay. There’s just no easy solution to this, if there was, we’d have done something long ago.”

Olsen said the city has had 10 years to come up with a solution.

“I don’t feel people should have to live with that smell,” she said. “If it was my septic tank, I’d have to fix it.”

No one disputes the fact that Thompson Hill residents live with quite a stench.

“I was amazed,” said Earley, who has taken to walking his dog on Thompson Hill after receiving the first complaints. “From my perspective there is an odor problem coming from our lagoons. It literally smelled on Thompson Hill like you were standing next to the lagoons.”

City officials are waiting for the final wastewater department master plan before committing any funds to a specific project. The master plan will give officials an idea of necessary capital projects for the next 20 years and, by evaluating it, they will be able to review improvements to the wastewater disposal process.

Earley said he would stay in contact with Olsen about the progress of the master plan and the possibility of solving the odor problem.


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