Sewer plant repairs may be a tad smelly |

Sewer plant repairs may be a tad smelly

Matt Zalaznick

The plant was once the target of constant stink complaints from neighboring residents, police and town officials. But over the last year, the complaints have dropped to a trickle as the plant has hired new managers and spent millions of dollars upgrading wastewater treatment equipment.

There were so few complaints in the past year Avon scrapped the odor ordinance it had been using to battle the plant. But plant Manager Bob Trueblood says the air might get a little smelly this fall as the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, which operates the plant, spends another $500,000 on further upgrades.

“We know as we make changes to the current system and take parts of it offline, there will be times that we have odors around the facility,” Trueblood says. “But I don’t think they’re going to be severe.”

The odors that may be released should smell more like sewage than a rotting, decaying stench, Trueblood says.

If there is a rotting, decaying stench, that means it’s being caused by something other than the equipment upgrade, Trueblood says.

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There has only been one odor complaint in the last six months, and that from a woman who doesn’t live near the plant, Trueblood says.

There hasn’t been a complaint from the nearby Sunridge apartments since February or March, Trueblood says.

“Things have been going well. We just want to let people know that we’re trying to make improvements,” he says. “If we get notification of an odor, we’ll make adjustments.”

When Avon repealed its stink law this summer, town officials praised the plant for the plunge in odor complaints.

“If it doesn’t work out, we can look at passing another odor ordinance,” Town Manager Bill Efting has said. “But I hope that never happens because the last couple of years the Sanitation District has done a great job trying to solve the problem. They’ve really made a good effort.”

The town expects the plant to keep up the good work, Councilman Mac McDevitt has said.

“And we recognize that they have made significant improvements over the past year and a half,” McDevitt has said. “But we contemplate them continuing to improve, ad nauseum.”

The upgrades will be going on at the same time 12 candidates campaign to win four seats on the Avon Town Council in the November election. That’s one reason the plant is giving Avonites prior warning about the potential for odors – Trueblood and his staff don’t want the smell to become an issue during this election season, he says.

“With the election season coming up and 12 people running for Town Council, we don’t want to be part of the conversation like the plant was a few years ago,” Trueblood said.

All the work should be done by Nov. 14, Trueblood says.

The work is aimed specifically at improving the plant’s odor controls. Installing larger fans will double the horsepower of the plant’s main odor scrubber. That will allow the plant to remove “booster fans” that aren’t as efficient, says Pete Miller, the lead odor control technician.

Solids-handling equipment, which sometimes produce significant odors during operation, will be placed in permanent enclosures, Miller says.

Earlier this year, the plant spent $100,000 on new chemical tanks and pumps, Miller says.

“We know some people may complain, but we’re spending $500,000 to make improvements,” Trueblood says. “We still want people to call us and tell us when there are odors because we are putting in temporary systems.”

Daytime odors should be to Pete Miller at 477-5433. After 3:30 p.m., residents should call 476-7480 and the answering service will contact the operator on-call.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

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