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“We Installed the Promised Biofilter - Why are We Still Getting Complaints?”

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In response to severe odor issues on a gravity interceptor in an established residential area, a biofilter was installed and became operational in June 2007. The Central-Yucca biofilter was installed in very tight quarters and treats possibly the highest concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in the collection system. It was designed to treat a design airflow rate of 2,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) which is drawn directly from a manhole on a 36-in diameter sanitary sewer interceptor. Based on observations by Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (“Water Authority”) staff and the consulting engineers, the biofilter substantially improved the odor complaint situation after being put into service. Odor complaints dropped significantly and were eliminated for much of the surrounding area formerly impacted by odors. However, consistent and vehement complaints continued from the residents and a business located immediately adjacent to the new biofilter facility.

The Water Authority worked diligently to improve the performance of the biofilter, developing new operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures and purchasing better testing equipment. Complaints continued even after operation of the biofilter had been optimized; therefore, a detailed testing program was implemented to gain quantitative data on the operation of the facility. The testing program showed high performance but complaints were unrelenting. After three summer seasons of operation, the Water Authority determined to replace the compost biofilter with a bioscrubber followed by a carbon filter. The contract is awarded and the new carbon filter will be in operation by late May.
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Keywords: Biofilter; compost media; hydrogen sulfide; odor panel; public complaints

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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