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Sewage smell blamed on rain, customer traffic

POSTED: September 20, 2013 11:50 p.m.

Why does the smell of raw sewage take your breath away at the gas station and Señor Fiesta on Cleveland Highway near Nopone Road? Has no one complained before?

The sewage smell was due to a variety of issues but can be mostly attributed to the abnormally high amount of rainfall and customer volume at Señor Fiesta, according to John Hulsey, who owns both locations.

A new septic tank was installed earlier this year and features an aerobic treatment system, which processes sewage so that it can be better absorbed into the surrounding soil.

The tank is capable of processing the amount of sewage but two other factors were preventing it from functioning properly, Hulsey said. The first problem was a lack of proper grass coverage around the septic tank.

“Most of the sewage gets drawn up into the root zones of the surrounding grasses,” Hulsey said. “So when you don’t have good grass cover, it doesn’t pump very well and the rain just prevented that.

“I think we have it straightened out now and we’re monitoring it every day to make sure it is functioning correctly.”
The second problem was that two of the four aerobic cells in the system were malfunctioning, though they were fixed last week, Hulsey said.

An aerobic treatment system works by exposing the sewage to oxygen and, unlike standard septic systems, requires regular monitoring and maintenance. That can make it difficult to properly adjust the system after it is installed.

Hall County Environmental Health has received two complaints about the location, according to manager Pat Braswell. The first came July 22, and stated the alarm light on the aerobic system was blinking. The second, and only one concerning the smell, came roughly two weeks ago.

Environmental Health sent a letter to Hulsey on Sept. 19 asking him to contact them about the situation. Hulsey said he has been working with an inspector from Environmental Health and that the situation should be resolved soon.

“It’s a really good system, and it is designed to carry the gallons we have,” Hulsey said. “But we just shocked it immediately with all the rain and high volume.”

“It seems to be functioning now and we’ll keep watching it.”

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