York County engineers are hoping a new filter system at the Crowders Creek pump station will help to quell odors as well as years of complaints in the bustling areas of Clover and Lake Wylie.
The station, which moves mostly residential sewage to a treatment facility, was one of several problem areas identified in a countywide odor control study completed in June.
The county has worked with Arcadis US, a Charlotte-based consulting firm, since November 2011 to look into sewage odor complaints and devise solutions to curb the smells, county engineer Rebecca Bowyer said.
After close to two years of research, the County Council and county administrators have signed off on building a biotrickling filter system, which will be stocked with microorganisms that capture and digest sewage components that commonly result in malodorous gases.
“This thing’s been ongoing for years and years,” said David Hughes, supervisor of the county’s water and sewer department. “It’s a constant maintenance issue.”
The county has received complaints from residents describing a distinct sewage smell that forced them off their decks and patios and left some disgusted, Hughes said. He said his office receives sewage odor-related complaints on a monthly basis.
York County sends its sewage to Rock Hill’s Manchester Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, but it owns and maintains several pump stations.
The odor surrounding the Crowders Creek station was prioritized as an “urgent need,” according to a county memo, although the county also identified several release valves along the sewage line that have been problematic for noses.
Carbon filters are being added to the valves, which allow gases from the sewage to naturally escape to ensure a consistent flow to Rock Hill.
“Eighteen miles is a long way to pump waste water,” Hughes said of the distance from the Crowders Creek station to Rock Hill’s treatment facility.
The county will hire another contractor to build the filter system at an estimated cost of $300,000. The county already has spent close to $380,000 to conduct the odor study, which included data collection, pilot testing and design work.
Before deciding to use filters, Bowyer said, county staff had tried using several chemicals to alter the pH level – a measure of how acidic or basic something is – of the wastewater stream as a way to reduce odor, but the results were lackluster. Other chemicals already are being added to the sewage to cut back on smells, Hughes said.
The station, one of the largest in the county, was built in 2007. The system was intended to replace outdated equipment in the area that couldn’t handle the growing volume of sewage brought on by increased development in the Clover and Lake Wylie areas, resulting in some raw sewage spilling onto streets.
Ongoing sewage spills in Tega Cay and Lake Wylie are from privately-managed sewage utilities, not from county-owned facilities, Hughes said. Those spills, combined with warmer weather, can ramp up the overall sewage odor problem greatly during the summer.
The county will continue to track the odor issue closely, Bowyer said, to see whether similar biotrickling filters can be implemented elsewhere.