City funds project to flush stink away

October 23, 2012

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The City of Portsmouth has started construction on a project which should solve the problem of strong sewer odors along Scioto Trail around Coles Boulevard, using grant funds from the State of Ohio.

Portsmouth Wastewater Director Richard Duncan said the City of Portsmouth treats sewage from the Rosemount area under a contract with the Scioto County Commissioners. Duncan said the agreement provides extra revenue to keep costs down for the city and saves the county the expense of operating a wastewater plant in Clay Township. However, since the sewage from Rosemount has to travel for more than a mile to get into Portsmouth, it can have a strong odor when it arrives. In certain weather conditions, air pressure from the Scioto River bottoms causes an updraft of air which spreads the odor over a wide area.

Duncan says that in the next few weeks, the City will be using grant funds to install a device called a “vortex flow insert” to eliminate those odors.

“This vortex device has been used successfully in many cities to eliminate sewer odor problems in those areas. I have spoken to representatives of Indianapolis, Toledo and other cities where they have had excellent results and they recommended the product,” Duncan said.

The project will be constructed near West Ruhlman Avenue, just south of the AEP Building on Scioto Trail. The contractor, Distel Construction of Portsmouth, has already started excavation. Duncan said the project will actually solve two problems.

“Distel Construction will also be replacing a deep sewer line on Ruhlman that is in danger of collapse,” Duncan said. “This is a large sewer we have been concerned about for a while.”

Duncan applied for and received funding for the odor control/sewer repair project in 2009 from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The total project cost is $300,000, of which $180,000 is a grant and $90,000 is a zero interest loan. The city is required to provide $30,000 as a ten percent match.

The project was delayed when Duncan was terminated by former mayor Jane Murray in January 2010. He was re-hired by Mayor David Malone in February 2011 after Murray was recalled from office.

“I intended to complete this project in 2010 after the City was awarded the funding,” Duncan said. “When I was re-hired in 2011, I was very glad that we were able to get an extension from the Ohio Public Works Commission so the city would not lose these grant and no-interest loan funds. The project engineering and Ohio EPA review are done, and we hope to complete construction before the end of the year.”

The vortex flow insert is manufactured by IPEX, Inc. The device continuously adds air to the sewage flow, reduces turbulence, and dissipates energy to reduce and contain odor-causing chemicals. Duncan said that the city has tried in the past to address the problem by adding chemicals and deodorizers, modifying pumps, and installing plates to contain odors, but those efforts were not successful.

“This device has just been on the market for more than five years now, and it has proven to be very helpful for communities facing problems like ours. This project will be a major improvement to our sewer system and I’m looking forward to getting it done,” Duncan said. “We are aware that some other places in town have odor problems, too. Hot dry summers like we just had can be especially bad because we don’t get enough rain to keep the sewers cleaned out. We are looking at some other odor control projects, especially in the East End and Front Street areas, which we believe would be very helpful

The project also includes installing five new or replacement manholes and replacing 250 feet of deteriorated 24-inch sewer pipe. The engineer for the project is Strand Associates of Columbus, Ohio. Inspection will be done by city forces.

Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or flewis@heartlandpublications.com.