A funky odor in Cambridge City seems to be getting better, according to residents who attended Western Wayne Regional Sewage District’s latest board meeting.
A brief discussion took place Jan. 15 at Golay Community Center between the two local residents, six WWRSD board members present and Michael Stuckey, WWRSD’s plant manager.
Resident Susan Moistner asked the board for an update about what’s being done to solve the odor. She said she had noticed some improvement.
Susie Dungan, WWRSD board president, said there’s been “a significant improvement since last month.”
The origin of the odor that began last fall is still unknown. It flares up occasionally in downtown Cambridge City and the blocks heading east toward Indiana 1.
WWRSD officials said at December’s meeting that the newly constructed treatment plant at 200 S. Plum St. had been working well since it went online last spring, and nothing had changed with its operations. They did not believe that WWRSD was responsible for the odor.
SugarCreek Packing is the district’s largest wastewater customer as it processes foods and cleans equipment at Gateway Industrial Park near Interstate 70 and Indiana 1. SugarCreek does treat its own wastewater before sending it to WWRSD for further processing.
Ron Holbrook, SugarCreek’s former local plant manager who now works in corporate affairs, attended December’s WWRSD meeting, along with about half a dozen residents concerned about the odor.
At that time, Holbrook said SugarCreek couldn’t confirm it was causing the odor, but wanted to assist because it’s the district’s largest customer. Its staff had been working with experts to determine if SugarCreek was the source, and if so, how the problem could be solved.
SugarCreek has been adding hydrogen peroxide to its wastewater to see if that addressed the issue.
In mid-January, SugarCreek began adding calcium nitrate to see if that helped.
Stuckey said gas meter monitoring and extra sampling is taking place at the industrial park and in town. Dungan said Stuckey has spent a lot of time researching the issue.
Stuckey was asked if additional vents would help, and he said no.
WWRSD board member and SugarCreek Packing employee Brock Gettinger said the added chemicals can’t be a permanent solution because of the cost.
“Be assured we’ll continue to work as hard as we can to find the root cause and address it,” Gettinger said of his employer.
A version of this article appeared in the January 24 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.