By LENORE RUTHERFORD
A solution is in sight for a sewer smell that has plagued some Tuolumne residents off and on since Black Oak Casino opened in May 2001.
The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, which owns the casino on North Tuolumne Road just north of downtown Tuolumne, has agreed to pay whatever it takes to solve the Carter Street odor problem.
Before opening, the casino paid $78,000 for annexation to the district, $266,666 in connection fees and almost $8,000 in engineering costs. It also pays an annual $12,000 service charge and an annual $5,000 maintenance fee for the line.
Lester Lingo, president of the Me-Wuk Economic Development Authority, told Tuolumne Sanitary District Directors yesterday that the casino has hired a company to work on the problem at the casino before sewage enters the district lines.
The work is expected to be finished in two to three weeks, Lingo said.
"And if this doesn't help, we will be sure it is fixed before the summer months, one way or another," he said.
The problem has affected 34 Tuolumne Sanitary District customers in an area roughly following Carter Street between Buchanan Mine Road and Chestnut Avenue.
The cost of stopping the smell is expected to be about $15,000. The company must set up equipment that uses a bleach-type product to kill all bacteria in the sewage, casino facilities Superintendent Dan Pickard said. There will also be ongoing monthly costs for maintenance and supplies.
The Sanitary District staff has tried several less drastic measure to stop the smell, including providing filters for residents and putting additives into the lines. But nothing worked.
Residents along the Carter Street line who attended yesterday's district meeting included Odis Selph.
Selph asked the district if it can handle future growth such as development of the 300-acre-plus former West Side Lumber Company property next to Tuolumne.
The Me-Wuk bought the property in a foreclosure sale in March 2002 and have plans to put housing, a commercial area and a golf course on it.