Falls officials looking for a way to deodorize sewage plant

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Depending on which way the wind is blowing, the stench coming from Niagara Falls’ Wastewater Treatment Plant can put a damper on downtown activity, or chase people off their porches in nearby neighborhoods.

As hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development creep closer to the Wastewater Treatment facility, the foul odor generated at the site is becoming more of an issue.

Lifetime resident Patrick Cummings said the smell is getting worse by the day, “It has gotten worse in the past couple of weeks, definitely got worse.”

The Niagara Falls Water Authority owns and operates the 50-year-old sewage facility, and as executive director Paul Drof explained it, the design of the plant—treating sewage with chemicals and mechanical filtration, rather biologically–unfortunately makes it more susceptible to odor problems.

“It was put here because of two reasons: one, the type of industrial waste we receive, and two, the combined storm and sanitary system for the majority of the City of Niagara Falls.”

Drof recalled, about 10 years ago a study was conducted to find options for resolving the odor issue, and there were three proposals, the most expensive of those was moving the facility, at a cost of a half billion dollars.

“The least expensive alternative was to rebuild the plant on site, and use it still as a physical-chemical facility, and that was pegged at about $230 million of improvements to do that.”

Mayor Paul Dyster said with state and federal officials pouring $320 million into the city’s economic revitalization, he has assembled a task force to look at options for fixing their stinky problem.

“With somewhere between 8 million and 9 million visitors coming to Niagara Falls every year, this is something that all of us have an interest in trying to address.”

Drof said there was also a plan devised a few years ago to actually enclose portions of the plant to contain the odor, but that could lead to other issues, including workers’ health and safety.

“Those are options, but they create problems, such as combined space concentrating the odors being a safety hazard for the employees, making it more difficult to do the required maintenance in those areas that need to be done.”

The water board director said, in the last two years, the Niagara Falls Water Authority, is investing close to $15 million in capital improvements, but to sweep that foul odor out of the picture, it could take more than money to find the answer.

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