Georgia Wastewater Utility Credits Ecosorb for Reduction in Odor Complaints
The Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority (WSA) has been delivering quality water and wastewater service to more than 90,000 Douglas County residents for over 17 years.
WSA’s slogan “Award-Winning Service For Our Local Community,” proves to be much more than just advertising jargon. Over the past 17 years, their honors have included three citations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for best wastewater treatment plant in the EPA’s seven-state Southeast region, two citations from the EPA for best wastewater treatment plant in the nation, and one award for best overall water system operation in the EPA’s seven-state Southeast region.
In addition, their water and wastewater treatment plants and laboratories have been named best in the state on numerous occasions by the Georgia Water & Pollution Control Association. And in a taste test sponsored by GW & PCA and EPA, Douglasville-Douglas County water was named the Best Tasting Water in Georgia for 2003.
On the flip side from all the accolades are the complaints coming from the neighbors immediately surrounding the WSA’s Southside Water Pollution Control Plant about nuisance odors from the plant—a familiar problem in the wastewater industry. As is often the case, the increase in complaints about offensive odors was due more to urban sprawl than to any additional odors being created by the plant.
The plant was originally built in the late 1970’s in a largely undeveloped area. Eventually, developers came in and built a subdivision in the vicinity. Since the early to mid 90’s the subdivision has continued to grow and houses have been built closer and closer to the utility.
One of the offending odors causing complaints was the naturally occurring odor given off by a properly operated activated sludge plant. According to Lee Smith, superintendent of the Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant, “It’s got a musty dirt smell, which typically isn’t offensive but when you’re not used to it, it can be.”
Also, odors given off during the treatment of biosolids, between operating the digestors and belt filter press, were believed to be the more obnoxious odors that WSA received complaints about. Though this didn’t occur all of the time, the odors can be considered a nuisance by neighbors.
The increase in complaints was directly related to increased population in the area surrounding the plant. Nevertheless, as a responsible neighbor, WSA had to do something about the odor. Based on a referral from another wastewater utility, WSA tested Ecosorb.
The Douglasville utility treats between 2.5 and 3 million gallons of wastewater per day. They use a concentrated form of Ecosorb, which they dilute with water and spray into odorous areas in an atomized mist. The ratio, says Smith, varies between 1 and 1.5 gallons to 55 gallons of water. A 5-gallon supply of concentrated Ecosorb typically treats odors at the plant for 10 days to 2 weeks.
When atomized, the droplets electrostatically attract the molecules that form the odor, then capture and neutralize them, diminishing their volatility until they are reduced to their lowest possible form. In this way, Ecosorb eliminates the odors — rather than simply masking them with fragrances or harsh chemicals. Ecosorb is proven effective with odorous gases, including hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, ethyl mercaptan and methyl mercaptan.
“It’s working very well. It’s the best thing we’ve ever tried,” said Smith. “We keep a log of complaints we receive, and they are way down since we installed the Ecosorb system.”
WSA is finding success throughout the entire plant, including in particularly odorous areas such as sludge handling.