San Jose Sewage Plant Smells Awful

By Matt Baume
|  Sunday, Jan 30, 2011  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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San Jose Sewage Plant Smells Awful

Barbara Saviano

He squeezed down into the sewer with the women holding his legs.

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San Jose wants its sewage treatment plant to smell better, but doesn't want to spend millions to make it happen. That's left residents holding their noses.

The plant, which dates back about fifty years, was described by one city official as "open-air," according to the Peninsula Press. As waste is removed from the water, it's simply directed to outdoor pools to dry. That's cheap for the city, but doesn't contain the smell.

It's estimated that fixing the process would cost a quarter billion dollars.

A new sewage plan addresses odors, but those measures won't launch until at least a decade after the plan takes effect.

A hired consultant has launched a campaign to push the city towards addressing the problem sooner. According to that campaign, odor control measures would improve real estate values, generating jobs and taxes.

It's difficult to say exactly how much blame the plant should get. There are various landfill, composting, and recycling facilities nearby.

The plant processes about 110 million gallons a day. That's more than a million times as much water as a single average person uses in a day. The population of San Jose is about 900,000.

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