BY LINDA BENTLEY | MARCH 5, 2014
‘The solution to pollution is dilution’
He cautioned, however, that citizens should not expect them to be able to eliminate all nuisance odors
CAVE CREEK – Mayor Vincent Francia began Monday night’s regular council meeting by thanking Cave Creek Museum Executive Director Evelyn Anderson for hosting the Spur Cross Reunion on Friday.
David Smith took to the podium during Call to the Public to tell council he didn’t know why but the previous management and council made the decision to allow water and wastewater infrastructure to “gracefully deteriorate.”
He told council they needed to increase and/or reallocate revenue so the town could properly maintain its assets.
Niko Lambesis, a resident of the Las Ventanas subdivision adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant, told council he received a letter on Feb. 24 from the utilities manager advising of maintenance being performed at the plant.
Lambesis said the toxic gas made it hard to breathe and stated the facility spews enough gas to cover 100 acres.
He told council, “We can’t enjoy our house. We can’t invite friends over,” and said the town needed to properly monitor the odor emissions so they had real data.
Utilities Manager David Prinzhorn (r) provided a PowerPoint presentation about how the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operates, areas requiring maintenance and the four potential sources for odors.
He said they have corrected some of the upstream manhole odors with charcoal filters and indicated gravity sewers needed annual cleaning and possibly more frequently.
Prinzhorn presented various lift stations that required rehabilitation and stated there was money in the budget to get it done.
Explaining people are extremely sensitive to hydrogen sulfide, Prinzhorn said excessive grease deposits from the restaurants in town, which will number 25 when Oregano’s opens, is one of the problems along with proper maintenance.
He also said they were missing six activated carbon canisters along Carefree Highway.
Prinzhorn stated there was premature failure of key components of the odor scrubbers that will require extra maintenance.
As part of his recommended solutions, Prinzhorn suggested a more aggressive grease trap ordinance, indicating the town’s fines for violations weren’t significant enough to force compliance.
However, when Francia asked what the fines were, Prinzhorn said he didn’t know.
As busy as he’s seen restaurants on weekends, Prinzhorn said $300 per month to have their grease traps cleaned was not a significant amount of money.
Prinzhorn stated they were trying to get the right balance of chemicals so it doesn’t cause corrosion and use of an odor log that will monitor odors 24 hours a day and show them if there is a pattern as to when the odors occur, which he said would indicate to him the problem is mechanical.
He also stated a possible “solution to pollution is dilution.” He said they could potentially add 150-200 more residential customers, former Boulders sewer customers, to the system.
Lambesis said he didn’t hear anything about a backup system for hydrogen sulfide gas emissions and stated the acceptable levels, according to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, are not acceptable.
Prinzhorn said citizens can expect less solids in the sewer collection system, a decrease in odors from sewer manholes, a 95-99 percent odor removal efficiency from the WWTP odor scrubber; and better overall management of the entire sewer system and wastewater treatment process.
He cautioned, however, citizens should not expect them to be able to eliminate all nuisance odors.
The mayor asked Prinzhorn to come back to council with answers to two questions: The penalties for grease trap violations and the number of communities in Cave Creek that are dry lined for sewer and what it would require to activate them.