Officials: no contamination in Arbuckle Creek in Minden

MINDEN, WV (WOAY) – It doesn’t pass the smell test.

That is what some concerned residents in Minden are saying about Arbuckle Creek, which is right in the backyard for many who live there.

“Tuesday evening, I left, went shopping, came back home at seven. And when I got out my vehicle, the poop smell was so bad, it was out by the main road,” Rachel Hamilton, a Mindent resident, said.

A wastewater treatment plant sits right above the town of Minden. Everyone knows that the odor around these facilities is unpleasant. Further, everyone also knows that water, amongst other things, rolls downhill, and the residents of Minden have concerns.

“Well, this is about the third day that people’s called me and told me that there was real bad odor and there was poop coming down the creek,” Susie Worley-Jenkins, another Minden resident, said.

The latter part of that statement has not been confirmed. According to Zachary Harrah, operator of the Minden Wastewater Plant, there is no contamination of the creek.

“It is not untreated raw wastewater. This goes through chlorination disinfection, which kills off any pathogens, e.Coli, anything like that, and then is chlorinated to protect the aquatic life in those streams. We’re required by our state regulatory agencies to ensure that our effluent is of good quality. It meets their parameters,” Harrah said.

Effluent is simply discharged from the water plant. At times when the ground is saturated and heavy rains occur, a hydraulic load is created on the plant.

“And they go into what’s called a storm mode during that mode, it shortens the cycles at the point. So what you end up getting is a little bit of that biomass washes out into the chlorination basins and goes out to effluent into the creek. So you will get a light tan, light brown color, which is perfectly normal in that storm mode,” Harrah said.

So what about the smell?

“A lot of that could be coming from the plant itself blowing down through the valley, especially in these colder days. It kind of holds everything down a little bit. The ball will hold it down,” Harrah said. “The one equalization tank we have at my facility is a 1 million gallon tank. And it does hold raw waste water and it is an open environmental tank. So the tops open, you’re going to have that smell.”

People living in Minden aren’t convinced.

“They can’t tell me that that thing’s working properly,” George Shuff, another Minden resident, said. “I worked in wastewater plants for 35 years. I know what I know what sewer smells like.”

However, Harrah emphasized that there is no current cause for alarm.

“Everything is operating as it should at the Minden wastewater facility. There’s no need for alarm. There’s no public health risk. Everything is, you know, running as designed. The plant is designed to do that to prevent raw wastewater from going into the waters of West Virginia.

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