Nipomo CSD takes new steps to minimize odor from wastewater plan - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Nipomo CSD takes new steps to minimize odor from wastewater plant

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Nipomo's wastewater treatment plant. (KSBY photo) Nipomo's wastewater treatment plant. (KSBY photo)

The Nipomo Community Services District says an odor problem caused by its wastewater treatment plant should soon be resolved.

Engineers say they've removed all of the old sludge that was causing a problem before, and they bought new equipment that should help in the future. 

However, some neighbors disagree.

"It goes directly to us. Oh, we smell it every day," said Kathy Goularte's, whose home sits across the freeway from the town's wastewater treatment plant.

"The smell is putrid. I mean, it's horrific," she said. "You literally feel like you live in paradise with your head in the sewer."

Plant engineers say they've found a solution to dry out the sludge beds more quickly, with a compost aerator. The equipment is used daily to introduce oxygen into the sludge. Engineers say it reduces pathogens, odor, flies and they say it cuts down the drying time.

"Instead of taking 9 to 12 weeks, we estimate that it's going to be somewhere in the neighborhood from 4 to 6 weeks," said Peter Sevcik, Director of Engineering and Operations for the Nipomo Community Services District.

The town got approval Wednesday night to buy the $110,000 machinery that they say will minimize odors and cut drying time in half.

But Goularte and her neighbors are worried about long-term solutions and what will happen this winter when the rain keeps the sludge wet. She's has been emailing back and forth with multiple California agencies to try and come up with odor blocking solutions. 

"So we vacation rental our home and we've actually had about three or four complaints," Goularte said.

She says the complaints about bad odors from her guests are hurting her business. 

"How do you explain that that's not your property that is smelling?" Goularte said.

She also has half-finished plans of putting in a pool on her property, but said, "We don't even have the desire to finish it because the smells are so bad, who wants to lay out in the backyard and smell sewer while they're enjoying the pool?"

"We still recognize that we are a wastewater plant and there are odors that come from the plant on occasion. We're doing the best we can now and we have invested money to buy additional equipment so that that we're a good neighbor to everybody around us," Sevcik said.

Engineers say they have made significant operational changes at the plant. However, they are still investigating wet weather options. They say they've looked into covering the beds to minimize the odor, and adding more machinery, but that could cost upwards of $700,000. 

The Nipomo Community Services District says it will gladly look into any complaints residents have about foul odors around their homes. The district is also hiring an additional wastewater operator at the plant.

Related coverage:
What's that smell? How winter rains affected Nipomo's wastewater treatment plant

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