Lingering Odors Push Sewer District to Research Cover Options

Combine high population growth, retail operations and a busy highway, and treatment plant odors become a top concern. Learn how this plant became a good neighbor with help from customized GTI covers.

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Lingering Odors Push Sewer District to Research Cover Options
Each clarifier at the South Dearborn Regional Sewer District is now covered by a high-performance coated fabric tensioned over a series of aluminum support arches placed along the length of the tank opening.

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The customer:
The South Dearborn Regional Sewer District in Lawrenceburg, Ind., provides regional wastewater treatment services for three cities and an international distillery. The 6 mgd treatment plant is located in an area of high population growth and is surrounded by many retail operations and other commercial developments. In addition, a heavily traveled state highway runs by the treatment plant.

The customer’s needs:
As the community grew, wastewater treatment plant managers at the South Dearborn Regional Sewer District saw an increase in complaints from neighbors about a foul smell lingering in the area. Odor complaints became a sensitive issue and the District Sewer Board knew it needed to address the problem.

The district’s initial attempts to treat or mask odors coming from their primary clarifiers were unsatisfactory.

“The district could manage odors for six and a half days in a week and then have an unexpected ‘odor event’. Then the telephone calls would start again,” says Dennis Feichtner, district superintendent of the South Dearborn Regional Sewer District.

It became apparent that neighbors’ perceptions did not change so long as odors were occasionally present.

The District Sewer Board was committed to solving the problem. With the assistance of the district’s consultants, GRW Engineers Inc., the Board evaluated alternative approaches to odor control and decided to purchase covers that would work with a ventilation and scrubber system to positively capture, remove and treat odorous gas. The District needed a cover system that reliably captured and contained odorous gas while providing features that met operational needs.

The Solution:
After researching several cover systems, the district chose covers fabricated and installed by Geomembrane Technologies Inc. (GTI). A customized cover design made the GTI cover system an attractive choice for the district. Other factors included GTI’s ability to deliver a quality cover system that featured a competitive price while fitting within the constraints of the existing infrastructure.

Each clarifier is now covered by a high-performance coated fabric tensioned over a series of aluminum support arches placed along the length of the tank opening. This industrial cover fabric has proven to be effective in a wastewater environment and also features UV protection. Aluminum walkways divide the fabric covers into manageable sections that are easily detached on three sides and rolled up along the support arches to expose the tank interior for inspection of maintenance. Hatches in the walkways are located at key points to provide access for a single operator to take samples, inspect equipment, tip scum troughs, etc.

The level of cooperation between plant operators and GTI’s installation crew was excellent. The district superintendent and plant operators took an active role in planning and installing the entire odor control system. With this assistance, the covers were installed in less than a week — without taking the clarifiers out of service.

The results:
Thanks to a blower and underground piping system between the covers and the scrubber, the district is now able to capture and treat odors from its headworks, primary clarifiers and belt press building.

GTI addressed constraints imposed by the physical configuration of mechanical and electrical systems associated with the existing clarifiers. The cover design was modified to fit within these constraints, which saved the district from incurring the additional cost of changing the existing system.

Easy access to the tank interior is a key feature for the district’s plant operators. The need for complete tank access is not always part of a planned maintenance activity. Sometimes access is required quickly because of mechanical problems; the ability to easily retract the covers without the aid of lifting equipment carries a significant time-saving advantage, especially in the case of an emergency.

Most importantly, GTI’s odor control system has helped the South Dearborn Regional Sewer District become a good neighbor.

“Odors have disappeared from our plant,” Feichtner reports. “The subject of odor complaints used to arise so frequently that it was a standard agenda item in District Sewer Board meetings. Now we receive positive comments from the public.”

For more information, please visit the GTI website at or contact Brent Howe, vice president of product management at or 506/449.0993.


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