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Spring odors bloom at Webster sewer plant.

Byline: John Dignam

WEBSTER - Sometimes, spring stinks.

Odor control at the town's sewage treatment plant on Hill Street depends on the weather, with problems evident in the spring and fall to those who live nearby, according to plant Superintendent Philip S. Robert.

Temperature fluctuations last weekend triggered odors and calls to selectmen, who asked Town Administrator Raymond W. Houle Jr. to investigate.

In an e-mail response that Mr. Houle read at Monday's meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Mr. Robert wrote that "we cannot control the weather or the wind direction."

Mr. Robert said yesterday temperature changes would continue to cause odor problems until the weather stays above 55 degrees.

Wind will also continue to be a problem if it is from the west, which blows the odors toward nearby homes.

"There are homes within 100 feet of the plant," Mr. Robert said.

He said wind is less of a problem at night because it generally is calmer after dusk.

Odors at the sewage treatment plant are controlled by live bacteria and fungi "that are cultivated to remove the components that cause the odors," according to Mr. Robert.

The biomass dies off in temperatures below 55 degrees, but odor is not a noticeable problem in the winter because windows are closed, Mr. Robert said.

Problems arise in the spring or fall when temperatures vary, and the biomass is either waking up or slowing down and windows are open.

"I sympathize with them (neighbors), but unfortunately we're limited to what we can do," he said.

Mr. Robert said plans are being made to upgrade the treatment plant and improving odor control would be studied.

"I'm sure there's a way to improve it," he said. "This is a good opportunity for bright people to look for solutions. We have to do everything we can to minimize odor."

Asked if those who work at the plant are as aware of the bad odor as the plant's neighbors, Mr. Robert said, "Oh, yeah, we know it."
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 25, 2007
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