MOULTRIE -- Although several city customers have complained about a foul odor near the waste-water treatment plant on West Boulevard, city officials say it's normal for this time of year.

Moultrie's utilities director, Roger King, said that under the right conditions, the plant can put off a pretty strong smell.

"It's a sewer. It's going to stink from time to time," he said. "On a nice, humid day, some of the raw sewage can't dissipate, so you're going to have a foul smell."

The treatment plant, which dumps treated sewage water into the Ochlocknee River, is the place where all of Moultrie's sewage ends up. Once there, a "settling basin" -- a huge tub, like a water tank without a top -- holds the raw sewage until it has a chance to enter the filtration process, King said.

"(The settling basin) is where people in that area are smelling when it's bad," he said.

Several Moultrie residents have voiced their complaints about the smell in The Observer's Rant and Rave forum, and others have complained to the city.

Another possible contributor to the smell are the "lift stations" throughout the county that pump sewage from low places toward the treatment plant.

"We have those stations, about 10 in all, that pump the sewage either to another lift station and then to the plant, or to a place where it can drain," King said.

Because the lift stations are a converging point for the sewage, it can often produce a strong smell.

Another possibility, King said, could be gas that is pushed out the pipes as the lift stations pump sewage through the pipes, King said.

"You've already got some sewage in the bottom of those pipes, and when it fills up, the gas that was in there has to go somewhere, and it will find a way out," he said.

The gas could escape through ventilation pipes at homes or through holes in the pipes.

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