GLEN ELLYN – Cathy Hosek is breathing easier these days, as the odors coming from the Glenbard Wastewater Authority's nearby plant are not as pungent.
"It might be that my subdivision is not getting the smell just because of the direction that the wind is blowing," Hosek said.
She has lived in the Butterfield West subdivision for 21 years. This year, Hosek said the odors from the plant have been the worst she has experienced since moving to the subdivision.
The authority operates and maintains municipal wastewater treatment facilities for about 109,000 residents and businesses in Glen Ellyn and Lombard, as well as the Valley View and Butterfield subdivisions. The authority is an agency formed in 1977 between the villages of Glen Ellyn and Lombard.
“This is an aberration, as the Glenbard Wastewater Authority has not experienced an issue like this in over 20 years,” Glen Ellyn Village Manager Mark Franz previously said in a news release. “The Authority has taken a number of steps to alleviate this problem and are proactively planning to ensure this issue does not occur again.”
According to information provided by the authority, the odor that had been problematic for residents is related to two digesters that were in an upset condition. This condition causes the balance of pH to drop and acids to increase, causing the odors.
This year, the plant received 131 odor complaints, compared to nine last year. Hosek said the odor problems started in late June and early July.
Air quality testing showed no toxic levels of organic compounds being emitted from the upset digesters.
"About 15 years ago, we had a bad summer," Hosek said. "We always have a few bad days, but we haven't had a year like this since then... The fact that we had two solid months – the entire months of August and September – that we couldn't use our properties, they consider that to be a nuisance."
About a year ago, the plant began accepting outside food, oil and grease waste as a way to help power the plant's systems. In light of the odor problems, the plant has placed a moratorium on all food, oil and grease deliveries.
Hosek is upset the plant started accepting deliveries.
"They obviously didn't know what they were doing, and they obviously are treating us – the neighbors – as a cost of doing business," she said.
She also is upset residents are having to tell the authority about the odor problems.
"They have noses," Hosek said. "We are a neighborhood. They should be going out and figuring out if the smell is bad. They shouldn't say that they assume there is no problem if people don't call. I want the Glenbard Wastewater Authority to consider themselves neighbors first."
Information is available by going to the authority's website, gbww.org.