City Has Plans For Cutting Odors At Sewer Plant

Feb 6, 2020

The odor tracker at the Harrison Street wastewater plant in Kalamazoo maps possible areas of concern in green.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Innovation might help an old problem at Kalamazoo’s sewage treatment plant: smells.

While Kalamazoo’s treatment center on Harrison Street goes to lengths to contain odors, some are still getting over the fence line. The city has a few ideas for reducing or eliminating them.

For one thing, the city is now tracking odors from its sewer plant. Sensors gather data in areas near Harrison Street. That lets the city to "see" potential problems in real time.

“This has been extremely helpful to really isolate and understand what could be treatment plant odors or what could be other odors generated in the community,” said James Baker, the city’s public services director.

The plant is also going to change the way it handles air in the treatment system. Baker says that along with smelling better, the new approach will be safer if something like gasoline gets into the sewer.

“Which could happen if there’s an automotive accident, a tanker overturns, something like that. We’re not saying, ‘folks, do this stuff on purpose,’ but it can happen."

The city is also consulting with an odor task force.