For years, an area behind Crown Valley Community Park near the and has been producing a rather noxious odor that doesn't seem to want to go away.
On any given day, residents get a strong whiff of what often resembles rotten eggs if they are in the vicinity of Crown Valley Parkway and Niguel Road. The odor is actually hydrogen sulfide, a colorless gas that at best does smell like rotten eggs.
Jennifer Heinen, director of the said, "We always smell it but it tends to be really bad after it rains. It's an odd odor and every once in a while, a guest will make a remark about it. It's just something that we are used to even though it is awful."
Added John I., who works at located in The Village shopping center, "It has been like that for at least 10 years and customers always come into the store asking why the store smells. There are 16 businesses here in the center and we all know the smell, it is awful. It has been like that every day that I have come to work and it never gets any better."
City Manager Tim Casey said that this is an area that the city has received complaints about from time to time, and that there are three different possibilities that might be causing the smell:
- The sewage treatment plant in the area, located between the north end of Crown Valley Park and the south end of
- The sewage system that runs under the road there and tends to emanate a smell from the manhole covers or;
- The natural smell of the adjacent Sulphur Creek itself.
Casey said that while the city has been aware of the problem over the years, it hasn't received much communication over it lately.
"The last mention of a smell at that area was an anonymous letter that we received at the to complain about a continuous odor problem at that same intersection," he said.
If the smell is coming from the adjacent creek, then Casey said the smell is no surprise. The odor is just something that naturally exudes from Sulphur Creek, and gives credence to its name.
If the smell is coming from the sewage system in the area, then that is the responsibility of , and Casey said that the water district has taken steps in the past to mitigate.
"They did install a device in the past that was designed to scrub the odor from the water in the area, but that device has since been removed. You'll have to ask them why," he said.
Bob Gumerman, Moulton Niguel Water District General Manager, said that it is currently in the process of updating equipment that is designed to stop the smell, which is why some of the equipment has been removed.
According to Gumerman, hydrogen sulfide, which is being released from the wastewater at that intersection produces the smell. This gas is being generated from two lift stations in the area. Lift stations contain pumps, valves, and electrical equipment necessary to pump water or wastewater from a low elevation to a high elevation.
MNWD has been attempting to stop this problem by installing oxygen generating equipment at those two lift stations, he said. The oxygen generators help stop the hydrogen sulfide gas from forming. Installation of the new equipment should be completed by the end of November.
"Unfortunately, at the very end of the installation it is necessary to remove the original oxygen generator, and this is the cause of the odors at the present time. The situation may last for another two weeks," he said.
Gumerman stressed that MNWD is firmly committed to solving the problem.
"MNWD has spent several million dollars to date. The situation is substantially better than it was in 2001, but we are committed to an ultimate solution."
Barton Mac Leod and Debbie L. Sklar contributed to this report.