By LENORE RUTHERFORD
A rotten-egg odor hitting an area of Tuolumne since Black Oak Casino opened in May 2001 may soon go away.
The source is sewage from the casino as it enters a Tuolumne Sanitary District line from the north at a manhole near Buchanan Mine Road.
On Wednesday, district directors authorized Tuolumne Wastewater Plant operator Danny Tuel to work with engineer Harold Welborn to come up with a plan for snuffing the hydrogen sulfide causing the odor.
The district will also ask the casino to bear the cost of the treatment program, which could be as much as $10,000 initially. After that, the casino might be asked to pay $500-$600 monthly to maintain an odor-free status, Tuel said.
The district tried cheaper options, but settled on a chlorine dioxide treatment to wipe out the smell, which reaches the homes of 34 district customers in an area roughly following Carter Street from Buchanan Mine Road south to Chestnut Avenue.
That's where the sewage enters a main line and the smell dissipates.
"The casino has agreed to work with us. We hope to have the problem taken care of by next month," Tuel said.
Pete Rigmaiden, who lives on the 19000 block of Carter Street, said he hopes the problem is solved before summer.
"It gets really bad when the weather gets hot," he said.
Once residents complained, Rigmaiden said, the sewer district gave them filters to put on vents in their houses.
That kept the odor outside, but made going outside pretty unpleasant.
"It was still coming out of the manhole covers," he said. "Then they decided to use additives to take the smell away.
"The problem with that was that we were getting this sickening sweet odor at times."
The smell hasn't been bad the last month or so, Rigmaiden said, but he added that he would like it to go away permanently.
"The worst part," he said, "is that they have to clean the line once a year, and since the casino opened, the sewage has backed up into our bathrooms (when they cleaned the line). That was really, super bad."