Stinky Situation

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

Imagine living next door to a sewage treatment plant. Well, that's life for Susan Hayes.

“Depending on if the wind is, what direction the wind is blowing, if it’s blowing your way towards your house, you're going to smell it on a bad day,” she says.

Sarah Williams used to go to Ocean City Elementary, which sits just feet away from the plant.

Sarah says, “It was pretty bad, it smelled a lot. We would just stay inside the house. At school there was nothing really we could do.”

Don Gaetz, Okaloosa County School Superintendent, says, “We think a good thing to do would be to move the sewer plant as quickly as possible. I've asked successive county commissions to do it and we hope we'll get action soon.”

Okaloosa County officials recently received approval to build a new and larger facility on Air Force-owned land. Right now they are waiting for lease papers so they can begin groundbreaking in April.

The plan is to have this facility shut down in three years, hopefully sooner. That's not soon enough for many local residents.

“We haven't been here as long but there are some neighbors that have been putting up with this for maybe 30 years. As long as the plant has been here, the odor issue, and so it would be a great welcome change.”

County officials acknowledge the process is slow, but say they are moving as fast as they can. Okaloosa County officials plan to turn the treatment plant into a public park once it is torn down.


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