City Deems Wastewater Odor ‘Public Health Emergency’

Haverhill city officials are now taking so-called “public health emergency” measures to resolve the ongoing complaints over smells at the Haverhill Wastewater plant.

According to the Haverhill Department of Public Works (DPW), Mayor James J. Fiorentini has directed them to “treat this as a public health emergency and to take any steps necessary to remediate this problem as quickly as possible.” Steps being taken include chemical misting over aeration tanks, adding chlorine in various locations as needed and adding staff to operate longer days and weekends for quicker sludge processing and removal.

“Wastewater treatment plant staff are continuing with activities to reduce odors and restore the biological treatment process to normal operation. Although some odors remain, the odors are significantly reduced from the levels several days ago. Odor measures include the addition of potassium permanganate, chemical misting over the aeration tanks, adding chlorine in various locations as needed and cleaning the gravity thickeners. We are continuing to process the septic sludge (which is the major source of the odors) with our centrifuge by running longer days and weekends to get it out of the plant. We are also hauling the septic sludge out in tanker trucks to remove the septic sludge as quickly as possible. We will be continuing to bring in additional staff and work with our consultants until the process is returned to normal,” said a statement from DPW.

Since crews finished repairs last week on two treatment basins and began trucking solids out from the facility, the odor has subsided during the day. However, neighbors of the wastewater plant and others in the Riverside section have said the “stench” continues to be a problem, most noticeably during nighttime and early morning hours.