Because some odors are just too smelly to forget.
Q: You’ve helped treatment plants around the world benefit from odor-control cover solutions. Do you have any stories that stand out in your mind?
A: Yes, some smells stick with you long after they’re gone. I remember visiting a plant a few years after our cover system was installed, and we were remembering what things had been like before (bad odors plus a half-inch of mysterious debris sprayed onto the guardrail and walkways from the aerated tanks). The workers took me out to the tanks and rolled a cover open so we could experience an olfactory blast from the past!
I remember, too, how a plant in Indiana had a fixed agenda item in its sewer board meetings called “odor complaints.” At every single meeting, the plant superintendent would report on the number of complaints received, what people were told, etc. The recurring issue was a major source of frustration. The plant had tried many approaches to controlling the odor, but eventually something would overwhelm the system — usually while their most vocal critic was outside grilling a steak. After they chose our covers as part of an odor-control solution, the "odor complaints" item disappeared from meeting agendas.
And of course, repeat customers come to mind. It’s always rewarding to hear people ask for what worked the first time.
Q: What have you learned about odor control during your time with GTI?
A: Well, I quickly learned that odor complaints mobilize neighbors, which, in turn, motivates treatment plants to take action. Very often, a plant was built 50-plus years ago way out of town in a lightly populated area. However, as the town expanded, subdivisions were built much closer to the plant. The odors were always there, but now people have moved closer so they are complaining. Something must be done.
There are many approaches to odor control, but the most dependable is “capture and treat,” which requires a cover to capture foul air and a system to remove the foul air for treatment. Under certain circumstances, other systems can be set up to control odors, but unexpected changes in wastewater composition or weather can overwhelm the system. This brings odors to neighbors’ noses, leading them to believe the plant did nothing to combat the problem. Odor issues can become borderline political, so it’s worth investing in a reliable solution.
Q: You were recently recognized for 25 years of service at GTI. Can you tell us why you’ve stayed for so long?
A: I feel like I am the grandfather of some of our cover products — and that includes a lot of pride in what our covers can do. I am proud that our covers help solve odor problems without interfering with the day-to-day work of treatment plant staff. Plus, I’m a hands-on problem solver by nature. The covers that GTI provides are custom designed to solve a unique range of problems that treatment plants encounter, and it’s a good feeling knowing they’re making other people’s lives easier.