Plant manager says odor problem being addressed
'Whatever it takes, fix it,' he claims superiors tell him
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

July 13, 2004 -- Property values could return as early as next year for some residences in the area of the 900 block of North Jackson Street if efforts to resolve "ripe" sewer-like odors coming from a company's wastewater processing system are successful.

Information on the odor problems and reduced property values were presented to Sulphur Spring City Council last week.The odors emanate from a lagoon at the Sulphur Springs Cultured Specialities plant, where milk by-product waste is held before being hauled to another location for disposal.

Ron Wehner, plant manager at Sulphur Springs Cultured Specialities, told council members the company was working to resolve the problems, and said Tuesday morning he was hopeful a new additive to the lagoon would present a permanent solution to the odor problems.

"We have initiated adding the new additive to the pool itself," Wehner said. "We have discontinued irrigation, which was the spraying of the sludge onto the fields here next to the plant. We're having that hauled off right now.

"What we are going to try to do is see what this new additive does, how it handles the pool, the smell and things like that," he said. "We may have to go to hauling sludge full time. We don't know."

Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell agreed that part of the problem may be solved by the company hauling all the sludge from the plant rather than using the effluent to irrigate a hay field.

Another option being considered is the way the field is irrigated, from spraying to a drip system.

But the process used to treat the waste water in the lagoon may still be a problem, Maxwell said.

"By hauling off the sludge rather than land-applying it, they've solved half the problem already," the city manager said. "The other half is the treatment process itself. They represented to the council they will be addressing the treatment process with addition of this bio-agent that will help stabilize the mix, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will work."

Whether the new additive being applied will work remains to be seen, according to the plant manager.

"I'm not going to put all my money on this new additive," Wehner said. "I am really hoping this will solve a lot of the issues and we can move forward with this and get these people's property reevaluated and make them happy again."

If the new process does not work as hoped, the plant manager said a waste water treatment specialist from the company was due at the plant-site Thursday for a first-hand look at the lagoon and the associated problems and to make any additional recommendations for the solution.

"Basically, my superiors have said, 'Whatever it takes, fix it,'" Wehner said.

At least two properties near the cultured milk specialties plant were reduced in value due to the odors from the waste water process. One home, owned by Chuck Nash at 902 North Jackson St., was reduced from more than $48,800 to just over $26,700 due to the odor problem.

Hopkins County Chief appraiser Bill Sherman said the appraisal district recognized the odor as being more of a temporary problem and the property values were reduced for one year only.

The property will be appraised and revalued again next year, he said. If the odor problem is resolved, property values may go back up when new values are applied next year.

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