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The South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility (SCBWRF) is located in the south central area of Pinellas County, Florida and is owned and operated by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. The facility is in the heart of a residential area with a school to the north and single and multiple family dwellings on the other three sides. Though some portions of the treatment facility have been in the current location for many years and the neighborhoods have grown up around it, odor complaints have increased over the last several years. The complaints became more numerous and the local community became more outspoken to the point that the issuance of a permit to construct facility improvements from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was being threatened by a formal public protest. In an effort to avoid a lengthy delay in the issuance of the construction permit, and to be a good neighbor to the residents, the county operations staff agreed to a rigorous program to substantially reduce odorous emissions from the facility.

With that background the county embarked on a two-phase approach to reduce community complaints. The first phase was an engineering approach that included an emissions source study. The emissions source study included determining prevailing wind direction at various times of the year, determining the major process areas contributing to the odorous emissions, and determining the chemical compounds most prevalent as odorous vapor contributors. With this information the county's staff and consulting engineer developed a plan to reduce emissions. The plan is being implemented in a gradual fashion and includes covering the process units which contribute the odors and providing scrubbing sprays using reclaimed water for odor reduction as the vapors discharge from openings in the tank covers. The tank covers have been designed so vapors can also be removed through an odor control unit, which can be either a chemical scrubber or a bio tower.

The second approach to reducing community complaints was getting the neighbors involved in the construction and odor emissions reduction process. A number of methods of community interaction were implemented. The first method of interaction was the establishment of a telephone “hot-line”. The “hot-line” is available on a 24-hour per day basis and includes response by an individual from the plant operating staff when available, or an answering machine when staff is not available. Messages left on the machine are typically answered within an 8-hour period. A newsletter was started, which is written by a member of the county staff. The newsletter is delivered via mail to all the residents in the area of the facility and provides information regarding construction progress and other related points of interest. The other major communication device instituted was a monthly neighborhood meeting. Before construction started, an open house was offered so the neighbors could view the facility before any changes were implemented. The next monthly meeting presented the results of the odor source study with the anticipated corrective measures and a schedule for installing tank covers, etc. Subsequent monthly meetings have provided information regarding progress of the installation of odor emissions reduction equipment. These meetings have also included other tours of the facility showing actual progress of the work.

Along with the installation of tank covers and other operational changes, the odorous emissions have been greatly reduced. Improvement is such that after about a year and a half of monthly meetings, the community has agreed to have quarterly meetings. This paper will provide details on the odor source study and engineering solutions to controlling emissions. The paper will also discuss and provide examples of the interaction among the community representatives, the county personnel, the consulting engineer, and the contractor's staff.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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