Jul 30, 2014

Fox Metro Head Responds to Odor Complaints

Tom Muth, manager of the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District, responded to concerns raised by Trustee Stan Bond, saying he's willing to work with the Village Board and correct the odor problems.

Fox Metro Head Responds to Odor Complaints

The manager of the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District says he’s taking complaints about offensive odors seriously.

Tom Muth, who oversees the 65-acre waste treatment facility in Oswego Township, said that he has been apprised of concerns raised by Trustee Stan Bond, and is readying a presentation to make to the Village Board. The upshot, he said, is that he and his staff will work to correct whatever problems Bond and village residents bring to his attention.

Bond initially aired his concerns at a board meeting last month, saying he noticed the foul smell while crossing the Route 30 bridge—while driving 50 miles per hour, with the windows up.

“That’s impressive,” he said. “It’s not right, and it needs to be corrected.”

So Bond put the question out to residents, and said he received a number of responses, enough to convince him that the problem is real, and should be addressed. He said the next step is to bring Muth before the board, and find out what can be done.

Muth said village staff has talked to him about Bond’s concerns, but before he addresses the board, he wants to do his homework. Muth said his staff is in the process of looking over two studies of Fox Metro’s operations that were conducted in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, to see what recommendations were made, and how they were followed up on.

“We want to look to see where we’re at, how far we’ve come, what we’ve spent, and what we can improve upon,” he said.

Muth said several steps have already been taken to minimize odors from the plant, which sits on the west side of the Fox River, directly south of Montgomery. One of them, he said, is a new hydrogen peroxide process that Fox Metro implemented last year, which he said measurably improved air quality over the previous year.

But some odor, he said, is just part of the nature of what Fox Metro does. When the plant was built in the late 1920s, it was equipped to treat about eight million gallons of wastewater a day. But the population the utility serves—including Montgomery, Boulder Hill, Oswego, Aurora, North Aurora, Sugar Grove, and parts of Yorkville and Batavia—has grown exponentially since then, and Fox Metro has grown with it.

These days, the plant serves about 250,000 people, and deals with up to 42 million gallons of wastewater a day, treating it in massive vats that systematically clean and filter it. At the same time, the plant has been upgraded to higher standards of air and water quality, and the staff has taken steps beyond those recommended in the decade-old studies, Muth said.

However, he said, if residents are complaining, then he and his staff will do better. He said he has no problem talking to the Village Board, or anyone with a complaint about Fox Metro’s operations.

“If there’s something we can improve, then you bet we’re going to,” he said.

Bond said he would like to see Muth address the board soon, but a date has not been set. Meanwhile, he continues to talk to Montgomery residents about the issue, and he said he hears the most complaints from those who live in the downtown area.

“We’re going to reach out, and I’m hopeful we will see a good attitude (from Fox Metro),” he said.

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