Press "Enter" to skip to content

Water district OKs $19.5 million plan to eliminate stench that plagues Rancho Mission Viejo neighborhood

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — The Santa Margarita Water District board has approved a $19.5 million plan to eliminate the foul smell from the Chiquita Ridge Treatment Plant that has plagued residents of Rancho Mission Viejo’s Esencia neighborhood for more than a year.
Residents packed the board meeting Wednesday, Dec. 6 to describe their frustration with the ongoing odor problem from the plant, which is adjacent to homes in Esencia’s Hilltop Neighborhoods.
They say the sulfuric smell usually starts most nights at 8:30 p.m., depending on the wind direction, and can dissipate in 10 to 15 minutes, or last into the next morning. Some say the odor was noticeably stronger during the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I’ve only lived here a year…I have probably spent 30, 40, 50 nights, including Thanksgiving with family in my house, smelling this,” resident Kathy Taft said. “We do not want to live this way.”
Board members acknowledged the odor issue and assured residents they are committed to doing what is necessary to fix the problem before voting unanimously to approve the plan.
“If that’s what it costs, that’s what we need to spend in order to solve this,” said Betty Olson, director and water quality and innovation committee chair.
The district has already spent about $5 million to target the odor over the past year, said Jim Leach, director of external affairs. It now will begin performing additional specialized air testing, installing peroxide or a similar chemical feed for odor control and installing a Chemically Enhanced Primary Treatment system, which officials projected should be complete by the end of January.
The board’s vote also authorized spending up to $400,000 for the primary treatment system.
The district also plans to retrofit the solids contact basin and install odor control on the aeration basins and the influent lift station, most of which should be done by June 2018, according to the presentation. Two additional phases will take work into 2019 if required.
In addition, water district officials said the city of San Clemente agreed to a two-month trial period to redirect sewage from its Talega community to the San Clemente city sewage treatment plant, which would reduce the amount of sewage treated at the Chiquita Treatment Plant by approximately 600,000 gallons per day.
Officials said the Chiquita plant is designed to handle 5 million gallons per day and the trickling filters will handle anything in excess. The plant currently treats approximately 5.8 million gallons of sewage per day, officials said.
That reduction could be enough to allow the district to stop using the trickling filters, which officials have said is one of the sources of the odor.
Leach said resident feedback regarding the odors has been instrumental in helping the district understand and identify the issues. The district keeps a log with the number of complaints on its website.
In November, the district received 178 complaints, which was down from 223 in October. However, the 534 complaints over the past three months are more than the rest of the year combined.
Leach said renovation of the plant was already in planning with the water district and that the odor complaints have simply sped up the process.
Board members told those in attendance that they are committed to making sure the issue gets resolved.
“My goal, in the near future, is to allow you to enjoy your homes the way you intended,” said Justin McCusker, vice president of the board of directors.
Source: Oc Register

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply