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In 1991 the Hampton Roads Sanitation District's (HRSD) James River Wastewater Treatment Plant instituted a new program to eliminate odors. A new approach to eliminating odors was needed at the 20-mgd plant after installation of a new odor control system failed to eliminate odor
complaints and development began to encircle the plant. The new program was based on changing attitudes about odor complaints and trying to exceed customer's expectations toward odor complaint response. Odor complaints would be viewed as opportunities to improve odor control. The new
odor program included accurate reporting of odor complaint information, quick on-site response, investigation to find the odor source, elimination of the odor source, and follow-up with the neighbor who identified the odor. Through quick response, plant personnel were able to identify odors
sources. Once identified a plan was put in place to eliminate the odor. As a result of the new Odor Control Program, odor complaints began to drop as information obtained from odor complaint responses was used to eliminate odors. In 1990 the plant received twenty-one odor complaints. Odor
complaints dropped significantly since the implantation of the plant's Odor Program in 1991. Over the five-year period from 1997 to 2001 only nine odor complaints were received. Each of these complaints were investigated, the odor identified, and steps taken to eliminate them. One key
to the program's success was community involvement. Neighbors were encouraged to notify the plant of odors, given tours of the plant to help characterize odors, and helped plant personnel identify odors by accompanying plant personnel back to the plant site during odor response investigations.
The drop in odor complaints from 1990 to 2001 shows that odor complaints can be used as opportunities to identify and eliminate odors. A dedicated response to odor complaints will also help to improve community relations.
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