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City Has Plans For Cutting Odors At Sewer Plant

A map on a screen shows green wedge shapes laid over the northern part of the City of Kalamazoo
Sehvilla Mann

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.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.
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