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Man decries odor that seems to linger too often in one area of Roeland Park

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- Some neighbors tell FOX 4 the air really stinks in one part of Roeland Park. Although they live next to a wastewater facility, one man thinks he shouldn`t smell a thing if the facility were run properly.

Neighbors also say nearby Nall Park has been empty because of the smell.

“Have you ever had your toilet back up? It`s when you go, (sniff), it`s that exact same reaction,” said Tom Madigan.

Madigan said that’s the odor he's had to endure over the decades he's lived in his neighborhood.

“If we can walk out of the door and smell it, their air scrubbers aren`t working,” he said.

The county says it's gotten complaints about the wastewater facility over the years. Councilwoman Becky Fast asked the county to look into the matter two years ago, and report back Monday night.

“The plant itself is old technology and uses a process called ‘trickling filters,’ and trickling filters are more prone to especially seasonal odor problems, and they`re tanks that have to be left open to the atmosphere,” said John O’Neil, who is the general manager with Johnson County Wastewater.

O'Neil said the plant was built back in the 1940's, and that it would take between $40 and $50 million to upgrade the facility's trickle filters alone.

The county already spends close to $300,000 on odor fighting chemicals for the plant each year. In the meantime, the county is urging residents to call when the smell the foul odor so they can take care of it. A couple living next door to the facility commended them for acting quickly.

“They can instantly almost turn off the smell. They did their best to be a good neighbor,” said Phyllis Phillips.

But if the county can turn off the smell almost instantly when you call, Madigan wonders why they can’t do it all the time.

“Why does it take some action from an individual? Shouldn`t they be doing that every day to make sure the smell isn`t there?” he asked.

If you live in Roeland Park and you want to report wastewater odor, you can do so 24 hours a day by calling (913) 715 – 8600.