City Councilwoman: "We have a big, stinky problem" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City Councilwoman: "We have a big, stinky problem"

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Valentines know all too well, a stroll over the Walnut Street Bridge can come at a price.

"I can smell it a little bit, it's not that bad in the winter time," Vasil Kuchma says, while walking with his date.

"Everyone is wondering where it's coming from," Travis Upton says, who spends a lot of time on the Northshore. "You've got tourists down, or you might be on a date or something, it's not good. Luckily on Valentine's Day it's not smelling right now."

The city will spend $3 million on odor control at the Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant.

An odor study shows more than 170 complaints were logged between January 2005 and June 2008. More have been filed since.

"Most of these calls have come right out of the downtown area and a few out of the Northshore," said Councilwoman Deborah Scott, looking at the data at Tuesday night's meeting.

Jerry Stewart manages the plant. He says the stench becomes overwhelming in the summer months when there isn't enough rain.

"The more water you have, it flushes the sewer out," Stewart explains. "So we are going to have to find a way to flush it during those times, either flush it with our trucks or something along those lines."

Stewart says the pricey biological scrubbing process will mitigate the problem, but not solve it.

The city's combined sewer system contributes greatly to the smell. Separating it could cost $400 million, money city leaders just don't have.

"Even if we had the money to separate, just think how much disruption there would be to downtown businesses," Stewart tells Channel 3.

Stewart says the odor control plan will make the smell manageable, help with corrosion and increase safety for plant employees.

For those breathing it all in, any attempt to clear the air is a welcomed one.

"It will just push us over the edge and make us better than Atlanta and Knoxville," says Kuchma, who is excited to hear city leaders are tacking the odor issue.

CITY COUNCIL VOTE

Chattanooga City Council members voted 7-2 in favor of funding the odor control plan.

Andrae McGary and Deborah Scott voted against the funding, saying they needed additional information.

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