PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - It smells a little sweeter in downtown Pascagoula thanks to a scent mister system at the Pascagoula-Moss Point wastewater plant.
“We received some complaints. A lot of it depends on the weather, atmosphere, conditions," said Jackson County Utility Authority Executive Director Tommy Fairfield Jr. “Currently the vision has a more community feel. You have parks, you’re trying to reach out to some housing, shopping. So the facility needs to evolve the best it can.”
Evolving includes masking some of the odor put off by the plant. More than two dozen misters now shoot a vanilla scent into the air from 5 a.m. to midnight each day. The scent is officially called vanillas in the mist and was selected by a smell team and community input, as well as what’s popular in other communities with a similar system. JCUA representatives visited Gulf Shores, Alabama, and studied their system for about six month before moving forward at the Pascagoula plant.
The misters are part of a bigger modernization plan that took about four years. That plan included adding equipment to provide better aeration and expedites the treatment process so less odor is emitted.
“It’s like it wants to stay with you. Just a foul odor,” business owner Gerrie Hicks said of the smell in the past. She’s owned Gerrie’s Wig and Jewelry Boutique on Canty Street for 47 years. Her shop is just blocks from the wastewater plant. She’s hoping more customers will walk through her door now that a foul odor lurking in the air is gone.
“I love it. You can go out and sit and walk around town, and you just have a better smell,” Hicks said.
Residents who live across the street are relieved and pleased with the changes, as are the people who eat downtown.
“Every once in a while, we’ll smell it here at nighttime, yes,” said Scranton’s Restaurant head chef Robert Bennett. “I’m glad they’re trying to fix the problem even though I didn’t know there was a real problem. I just thought it was the Gulf Coast, the ocean, the Sound.”
The scent is stored in a barrel and fed up through hoses, around to the front of the building. Crews are working on a more permanent solution with pipes.
JCUA said it will test the scent misters for a couple of seasons and if it continues to help eliminate odor, they’ll consider installing more.