For years, neighbors of a Rivanna Water and Sewer plant have been complaining about an odor in the air. But after Monday's Charlottesville City Council meeting, authorities are crunching the numbers for new measures to stop the smell of sewage.
Monday night, council asked the RWSA what it would take to stop the smell from drifting into nearby neighborhoods. Executive Director Tom Frederick says the cost will be in the millions, but worth it.
Emily Lape, who lives in Woolen Mills near the plant, says the air sometimes smells like dead rats.
"Some days it's fine and then I come home from work and it just stinks," she said.
But Frederick says the facility is green and it's because of the smelly air.
"We are cultivating the bacteria that naturally break down the waste material that can produce clean water and produce solid material that becomes compost that can become part of the soil," he said.
The RWSA is already in the process of implementing phase two of a $33 million plan to completely control the odor. Phase one started the solid waste coverage process. Phase two places covers along the outer rim of the primary clarifier. If phase three is accepted, the entire tank will be covered.
On Monday night, council asked for the cost of phase three. Frederick says phase three alone would cost around $4,000 - but he estimates the price tag for the whole project is much higher than that.
"I would suggest if phase three would be done we are getting close to about a third of the $33 million total funding," Frederick said.
The total cost will go to the RWSA Board of Directors for approval next week and then to City Council. That leaves nearby neighbors hopeful.
"I've heard they are about to put major improvements. I am just hoping they will get better," said neighbor Robin Hanes.
Frederick says he believes phases two and three will help with the smell and make neighbors of the plant a lot happier.
RWSA Aims to Control Smell of Woolen Mills PlantMore>>