With UAJA project running behind, how long will the College Township smell continue?

College Township residents and passersby will have to tolerate the unpleasant smell coming from the University Area Joint Authority for one more month as construction on the wastewater treatment facility is running behind schedule.

UAJA announced in 2018 that the $10 million project would address an odor created by a biofilter that worked to reduce smells created by the compost facility. With an initial anticipated July 2019 completion date that was extended to mid-October, the completion deadline has been postponed until November.

“The project is behind schedule due to contractor materials delivery problems,” UAJA Executive Director Cory Miller wrote in an email. “Start up is now projected for Nov. 19.”

UAJA initially planned to construct an entirely new facility while also using its old one, but that plan was almost $3.5 million over the estimated budget, so officials decided to build on top of the facility — leaving the treatment facility without odor control and the project running behind schedule. The demolition of the facility, located on Spring Valley Road, occurred Dec. 4.

In June, Miller told the CDT that UAJA tried to schedule construction work during the winter, when less people are outside. But over the summer, Miller said UAJA saw an increase in resident complaints about odors coming from the facility.

“There are days when nobody smells anything, and there are days when a lot of people smell a lot,” Miller said.

University Area Joint Authority continues construction on the wastewater treatment facility. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

When residents report odors, Miller said UAJA keeps track of the complaints, where they are coming from and checks to make sure the treatment facility is operating properly.

The construction company, Global Heavy, has faced a number of challenges while working to complete the project, and the general construction company will face financial penalties due to the missed deadlines.

Once complete, the new facility will consist of a completely contained concrete box. The dewatering and compost facilities will be piped to the new facility. Once the air has been deodorized, it will be sent through an exhaust tower and released into the atmosphere, according to Miller.

Construction of the exhaust tower was completed Wednesday.

“Once the project is complete, the design is supposed to eliminate odors before it even goes up the stack,” Miller said. “So except for really extreme conditions, there should be no traceable odors leaving our property.”

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.