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Environmental factors responsible for strange smell on campus

Strange smells aren’t uncommon on a college campus, and there is one smell in particular that stands out at the University.

Some students have noticed an odor near the golf courses and parts of campus close to the courses, and some have speculated what the cause is.

Utilities Director for the City of Bowling Green, Brian O’Connell, said the wastewater treatment plant is located on North Dunbridge Road, which is near the golf courses.

“All the waste water from residents and customers goes there before it is released into the Poe Rd. ditch,” he said.

The source of the smell some students may notice comes from the waste water plant, O’Connell said.

O’Connell said the amount of complaints received often times will change with the weather.

“It seems worse in the summer when there is less water flowing in with the waste,” he said. “On days with more rain, there are less issues with odor.”

Since the beginning of winter, some students said the smell has seemed to disappear.

O’Connell said there is no difference in how the waste is being treated, but there are variables that could cause the campus to smell less.

“The wind direction may be away from town, or people may just be spending less time outdoors,” he said.

The waste water treatment plant is currently looking into treating the waste to reduce odors, O’Connell said.

“We’re trying to look at options to add chemicals to help control or reduce the odors,” he said.

Bruce Meyer, assistant vice president of Campus Operations, said the University would support the city’s decision.

“From a university perspective, we would work with the city on the project,” he said.

Senior Andrew Spiess said the smell does not stop him from continuing with his daily activities, but he can understand why they would attempt to reduce the smell.

“I think they would do it for comfort purposes,” he said. “Bowling Green appears to be a nice, tight, put together community, but the smell takes away from it.”

A common misconception surrounding the smell is due to Bowling Green formerly being a swamp.

Nicholas Hennessy, University sustainability coordinator, said he does not consider the swamp to have ever played a factor in the smell.

Hennessy said he is surprised with some students’ knowledge of Bowling Green’s history.

“I am always surprised that there are students who realize we are built on a swamp,” he said. “I continually find people that don’t know.”

Some students believe the smell is due to the former swamp because they hear rumors from other students.

“They think it because they heard it from someone else,” he said.

The reputation that swamps have of smelling foul is another misconception Hennessy said.

“Swamps are good for the environment,” he said. “They naturally filter waste.”

Despite swamps and waste water treatment plants both filtering water there is a large difference between them.

“A swamp would have no attributes of the waste water plant,” he said. “A swamp is natural, while a waste water plant is man-made.”

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