BG takes one step closer to less smelly sewer plant

BG wastewater plant


BG Independent News


Bowling Green officials are hoping when the sewage hits bigger fans and carbon filters, it will come out smelling better.

But the improvements will be on hold a couple weeks since City Council lacked enough members present Monday evening to suspend the rules requiring three readings. Council member Daniel Gordon was absent and council president Mike Aspacher was filling the role of mayor.

Bowling Green officials are considering spending about $478,000 to take away the foul odor that sometimes emanates from the city’s water pollution control facility on Dunbridge Road. The plant is the source of many complaints, primarily from Bowling Green State University and from nearby businesses.

The facility staff believes the two likely sources of the stench are the septage receiving station and the biofilter that removes the bacteria from the waste and turns it into a harmless solid. A misting odor neutralizer was added to the biofilter’s exhaust fan in 2016, but it has had limited success. The septage station has no odor control.

“The odor that comes out of those tanks can be pretty offensive,” O’Connell said.

The foul smell is the source of complaints not only from nearby businesses, but also during large outdoor events, like the soccer tournaments held south on Dunbridge Road.

“If we happen to have a bad day at the plant, it can cause a bad mark on the city. People remember that,” O’Connell said.

The city’s utility staff went on a field trip last year to a wastewater plant in Pennsylvania, where a carbon filter system was installed to treat the exhaust air for odors. That change ended all odor complaints, including from the Holiday Inn located right next to the plant, O’Connell said.

The permit for the plant allows for “zero odor discharge from the perimeter.”

So last Monday, O’Connell asked the Board of Public Utilities to approve the purchase of a larger exhaust fan, additional air piping and two carbon filter vessels for the biofilter. The two tanks would allow for one to serve as a backup. To combat odors from the septage station, two exhaust fans and carbon filter vessels were also proposed.

“That seemed to be the sure-fire way” to get rid of odors, O’Connell said. “We’re just trying to be good neighbors.”

The cost to sweeten up the septage station is estimated at $190,512. The cost to fix the biofilter odors is estimated at $287,403 – for a total of $477,915. That cost is over the $300,000 budgeted last year for the project, O’Connell said. But the Water & Sewer Capital Improvement Fund can cover the additional costs. That is money that can only be spent on water and sewer projects, according to a city ordinance that divides up income tax revenue.

O’Connell had planned to ask City Council to give all three readings of the resolution to purchase the equipment at Monday’s meeting. That way, construction could be complete by mid to late September, soon after BGSU students moved in.

However, council could only give the ordinance a first reading due to only five members being available to vote.

Also during Monday’s meeting, council member Bob McOmber asked about the next step since council passed the “welcoming resolution” for immigrants. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the plan will now go back to the Human Rights Commission which proposed it initially.

“They play such a vital role in our community,” Tretter said of the HRC. “We will look to them for guidance.”

The commission meets on the first Friday of every month, at 8 a.m., in the city building, for anyone interested. The plan may then come back before council, as some “homegrown” initiatives do, Tretter said.  McOmber suggested that the proposal first go to the Community Improvement Committee for review.

In other business, Tretter reported that the city had applied for a $50,000 grant providing for 200 additional trees. Approximately 160 would be placed on city property like parks and the cemetery, and 40 would go to BGSU.

City Arborist Grant Jones talked about the benefits of trees. Tags have been put on some city trees recognizing their value.

In other business Monday evening, council:

  • Learned from Public Works Director Brian Craft that a public meeting will be held May 16, from 4 to 6 p.m., in BGSU Stroh Center, to get public input on the proposed roundabouts on East Wooster Street.
  • Heard from O’Connell that the American Power Association awarded Bowling Green with a certificate of excellence in reliability based on the city’s few power outages. Cities ranking in the top 25 percent nationally for outages are awarded for their efforts.
  • Was reminded by council member Bruce Jeffers of the Court Street Connects event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on East Court Street.
  • Heard from Mary Hinkelman, managing director of Downtown BG about the upcoming Art Walk on April 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the downtown area. The event raises funds each year for the downtown flowers. Thirty-two artists have signed up to display art in businesses, plus a quilt exhibit will be held in the Four Corners. A piece of Baker O’Brien glasswork will be raffled.
  • Learned from Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley that the Adult Egg Scramble will be held Friday, at 8:30 p.m., in Simpson Garden Park, with several donations made by local businesses.
  • Heard from Otley that registration for summer park and rec activities begins on May 1 for city residents, and on May 15 for non-residents.
  • Learned the mosaic panel installation is being worked on in the community center.
  • Heard from Craft that the city has been named a Tree City for the 37th year, and has received a growth award for the 23rd
  • Went into executive session to discuss real estate. No action was taken afterward.