What stinks on Leipsic Road?


Added wastewater flow into the city’s pump station, above, near Home Depot’s parking lot is what’s causing the bad odor, according to public works officials. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery )

DOVER — Local resident Larry Buckley said that the “stench” coming from a sewage pump station just north of the Dover Home Depot’s parking lot on Rt. 13 and Leipsic Road is so “overwhelming” that he can hardly stand to drive through the area.

“It’s been so bad recently that when you drive through there, especially the service road between the Acme and Home Depot, the smell actually lingers in your car,” he said.

“It’s been bad for the past two or three years, but it’s been much worse lately.”

So what’s the answer to the question: What stinks?

According to Dover public works director Sharon Duca and Kent County public works director Andrew Jakubowitch it is added wastewater flow that’s been “temporarily” diverted from the county’s transmission line under Rt. 13 to the city’s pump station.

“The city of Dover owns the pump station right between Dover Downs and Home Depot, but we do have some extra flow going into that pump station right now from the county,” said Mr. Jakubowitch. “The transmission line under Rt. 13 is compromised — it broke once, we fixed it and it broke again — so we are using our bypass to go around it and that bypass enters into the city’s pump station.”

Pump stations, also called lift stations, move wastewater to higher elevations to allow transport by gravity flow. Wastewater is fed into and stored in a sealed underground pit known as a wet well.

The pump station in question, is one of the city’s 41 stations throughout the municipal sewer system. To some degree, Mr. Jakubowitch said, these stations usually have a distinct odor already.

“There was always an odor issue at that spot, but it’s being magnified right now by the extra flow from us,” he said.

Ms. Duca noted that although the county has been making use of their pump station for about the last year and a half, the added flow is being metered by the county so the city won’t be ultimately charged for it when they dispel their wastewater back into the county’s wastewater system for treatment.

According to the city’s 2010 water/wastewater handbook the average daily flow from the city’s system to county’s system for treatment at its facility in Milford is approximately 4.5 million gallons per day.

“They are making sure that we’re not being charged for that extra flow,” said Ms. Duca. “That’s something that will be negotiated with them in terms of the actual resolution.”

The county has been working on short term solutions to reduce the odor and long term solutions to return the county’s wastewater to its own lines, said Mr. Jakubowitch.

“We’re working on a project to rehab that entire line down Rt. 13 right now because a lot of it is very old,” he said. “For the odor, we’re looking at three different solutions: getting more air exchanges by using blowers to introduce more air into the wet well of the pump station to dilute the odors, possibly using an activated carbon system or using an ozone system to help break down the odors.”

If you ask Mr. Buckley, the odor is so bad that stores in the area will probably lose business until it’s fixed.

“My wife decided that she won’t be going to that ACME anymore,” he said. “Unless it’s a really windy day, the smell is terrible.”

ACME staff refused to comment.

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