The Steamboat Springs City Council listened Tuesday night as Heritage Park residents complained of odors coming from the city's wastewater treatment plant.
The plant is about half a mile from the neighborhood west of the city.
Rob Lutz, who has been living in Heritage Park for three summers, said it has smelled every summer. He said he no longer can have dinner parties on the deck, push his children on the swing or leave the windows open.
Lutz was among the residents who worried about what the smells would do to property values.
"We choose to live here in this neighborhood," Lutz said. "We enjoy Steamboat; the smell is just unbearable."
Some residents, such as Tammy Ryan, who was one of the first homeowners in Heritage Park, said they did not know who to call or what was causing the smell.
"I never complained. I just accepted it," she said and noted the smell was worse this year than others.
Director of Public Works Jim Weber said the complaints about the plant are the first the city has received in several years. Kate Nowak, who moved to Heritage Park in August, filed the complaint and has been keeping a log of the days when the odor is strong.
Nowak said during August and September, the odors would come one to three times a week. In October, the odor was recorded only twice. And until Wednesday morning, Nowak said she had not smelled any odor from the wastewater treatment plant in November.
"I was walking my dog at 5:30 in the morning, and the stench was there," Nowak said. "It is not encouraging that it is still going on into the winter months."
The council directed staff to continue looking at alternatives to alleviate the smell.
Weber said smell is the nature of a wastewater treatment plant. Plans to alleviate the smell run from $10,000 to $5 million, he said.
Councilwoman Kathy Connell said the city should try to do better, look into new technology and gather information from other communities.
"This is not just about people's noses, this is about property values," she said.
At the meeting, Weber and Plant Superintendent Gil Anderson said complaints were most often made during late summer.
They said a process called supernating causes the greatest odors. The process, which costs less than hauling away waste, involves storing the waste and later spraying it on fields.
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