Thank you, Athens!  Finally the Athens-Clarke County Government is dealing with a problem that has plagued eastern Clarke County and the University of Georgia for years.  [That wasn’t sarcasm, was it?]

The problem?  The wretched smell known as “poop on the Loop” or the “East Campus funk”- the smell produced by the North Oconee River sewage treatment plant that reminds me of rotten eggs or human feces.  Visitors, residents, and students get to smell this all the time, in the areas around East Campus (of the University of Georgia), the Loop (Highway 10), and College Station Road.

And this is completely an environmental issue.  In the Environmental Protection Agency’s brochure titled Reporting Environmental Violations (pdf), the first listed “sign of possible violation” is “strong, offensive, or unusual chemical odors.”  Want to see the miriad of compliance issues the EPA has found at this smelly plant?

Today, the Athens-Banner Herald published an article about a new sewage treatment plant, which is under construction and scheduled to open on February 12, 2012 (yep, Athens has to put up with the smell for two and a half more years).

Why has it taken so long to fix this problem?  I say long because the East Campus stench was occurring when I first arrived on campus (2004) and won’t be fixed until 2012, or 8 years.

In my opinion, the smell has taken this long to fix because it mainly affects the University of Georgia community, and especially the students of UGA.  The North Oconee sewage plant sits across the river from the UGA campus (see the location from satellite), in an area where mostly UGA students reside.

So thank you, Athens-Clarke County, for attempting to fix this problem after the taxpayers in your county have put up with this smell for a decade.  Why couldn’t you have just installed scrubbers or something in the interim?

If you would care to see more information, the EPA’s website on the North Oconee River sewage treatment facility is here.  Their compliance status (or really, lack thereof) is here, and other information is here.