Friday, December 21, 2007

Wade: Odor's solution comes at a cost

By John Ramsey
Staff writer

The rancid odor in Wade is gone, but the debate over who should pay for the fix remains.

Stagnant sewage in the town’s pipes produced hydrogen sulfide, which created a rotten-egg stench in much of the town for more than a year.

Last month, Cumberland County started pouring a chemical in the pipes that prevents the smelly bacteria from forming in the pipes.

“I really haven’t noticed it all that much since then,” said Shearin McPhail, who lives across from the town’s sewage lift station. McPhail said last month that the smell was strong enough to make him nauseous.

A sewer system for Wade, Godwin and Falcon — called Norcress — was finished in the fall of 2005. Wastewater from Godwin and Falcon converge in Wade.

A lack of customers to flush the pipes means raw sewage sits in them for days at a time, said Tom Cooney, Cumberland County’s public utilities director.

The engineer, Kevin Lindsay of Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, failed to consider the low usage when designing the project, Cooney said.

Lindsay said he wouldn’t have done anything differently in hindsight. The only design solution would have been installing smaller pipes, and that would restrict the towns’ possibility for future growth, he said. He attributed the odor to a combination of stagnant sewage in the lines and the waste coming from a meat-processing plant in Falcon.

The new chemical additive, which costs about $1,300 a month, has drastically reduced hydrogen sulfide output.

The county believes the Public Works Commission should cover the costs because of a maintenance agreement that calls for PWC to maintain pumping stations and chemicals associated with operation.

The PWC argues that the chemical to stop the stink is not associated with operation.

Legal teams for the county and the PWC are still discussing the issue.

If the county has to pay for the chemicals, which will be added indefinitely, the roughly 500 customers of the Norcress system will likely see about a $2 increase on their monthly bills.
Staff writer John Ramsey can be reached at or 486-3574.

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