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Southeast DeLand growth: something stinks

WHAT’S THAT SMELL? — Homeowners along and just off Taylor Road have complained publicly and to the City of DeLand about the unpleasant smell from Lift Station 71, a master re-pump facility that is responsible for collecting sewage from rapidly growing southeast DeLand. 

WHAT’S THAT SMELL? — Homeowners along and just off Taylor Road have complained publicly and to the City of DeLand about the unpleasant smell from Lift Station 71, a master re-pump facility that is responsible for collecting sewage from rapidly growing southeast DeLand. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles that will look at how DeLand’s subdivision explosion, particularly on the city’s southeast side, affects the community at large. Roads and traffic, schools, amenities, wildlife, utilities and more will be explored.

 

Something stinks in southeast DeLand, and everyone agrees the unpleasant odor is coming from Lift Station 71. The station was built to accommodate the 4,000-home Victoria Park development, but its odor-control system is outdated.

“We’re all aware of the smell,” said Christopher Wrenn, forward planner for builder D.R. Horton, which is getting ready to construct 590 homes near the lift station.

The new development is planned on 172 acres at the southwest corner of South Blue Lake Avenue and East Taylor Road. The lift station is nearby on the south side of East Taylor Road, where utility easements for gas and electricity abut the western edge of the new neighborhood’s initial phase.

“That is a failing lift station — when it comes to odor,” project engineer Sean Portier of Orlando-based KCG Engineering said, adding “That’s what they call odor control.”

City of DeLand Public Services Director Keith Riger said “Lift Station No. 71 is, by no means, a failing facility. It has ample capacity to reliably handle current and future flows. It has an odor control system that needs to be upgraded, and that project will be completed shortly.”

City of DeLand Utilities Director Jim Ailes said Station 71 gets quite a workout.

“That one takes in everything from the whole south end of DeLand,” Ailes said.

The beleaguered lift station handles waste from the Crystal Cove subdivision on McGregor Road west of U.S. Highway 17-92, the shopping centers nearby along South Woodland Boulevard, and the rapidly increasing number of subdivisions flanking Orange Camp Road.

Sewage is collected from those areas and carried to a station on Orange Camp Road east of Blue Lake Avenue, before being conveyed to the master station on Taylor Road, along with waste from four or five other stations outside of Victoria Park, Ailes explained.

Six Victoria Park lift stations also contribute to the workload of Lift Station 71, Ailes said, apparently overworking an outdated filtration system.

“It has a charcoal system from before everything was built out the way it is,” he said, adding, “It might be time to change the charcoal.”

Ailes said the city has money in its 2017-18 budget for bio-organic, self-replenishing filtration systems for master Lift Station 71 and two or three others, but he’s not sure how soon the equipment will be in place.

Each system would cost about $64,000, he said.

“It’s a matter of getting it purchased and installed,” Ailes said.

It can’t happen soon enough for Christine Wise, whose 5-acre property is accessible from the north side of East Taylor Road.

At a meeting in November organized by D.R. Horton to answer questions from residents about the new development, Wise questioned the wisdom of building homes so near City of DeLand Lift Station 71.

“You’ve got houses going in right up under that pumping station,” she said. “You’ll have notified them it’s there, but come July when they’re smelling my poop, they’re gonna want to sell … and my property value decreases.”

Although 5 acres separate Wise’s property from Taylor Road, she said, the foul smell still wafts her way.

The land designated for the new neighborhood, Victoria Oaks, stretches south along Blue Lake Avenue to the edge of Westminster Woods and west along Taylor to Longleaf Plantation.

D.R. Horton’s Wrenn said a lift station near Freedom Elementary School on Blue Lake also produces an unpleasant odor, but city officials said they’ve had no complaints about that facility.

The topic of stinking sewage treatment came up when the DeLand Planning Board reviewed the Victoria Oaks plan Nov. 15.

“Supposedly the city has acknowledged the lift-station issues,” Planning Board Member Buz Nesbit said.

Riger said, “We have funding needed to install odor-control units where warranted and will install and upgrade units as necessary to minimize offensive conditions to our residents.”

DeLand’s five-year capital-improvements plan, established in 2016, earmarks more than $62 million for water and sewage projects.

Ultimately, all the sewage flows to DeLand’s main wastewater-treatment facility on South Garfield Avenue. That plant is operating at 58 percent capacity, Riger said, and should not need to be expanded for several years.

The city will begin planning to enlarge it when the plant reaches 80 percent capacity, he said.

— Erika Webb, erika@beacononlinenews.com

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