City to build new water treatment facility
Plans are in the works to build a wastewater treatment plant just south of 64th and Center.
Business owners in the area are keeping a close eye on the Saddle Creek Retention Treatment Basin project.
The facility will help improve the water quality in the Little Papio Creek.
Officials say that untreated, combined sewage overflows into the creek more than 65 times a year.
"We will take 80 to 85 percent of that current amount that flows into the creek untreated and capture that, screen it, chlorinate it... send it to the wastewater treatment plant for further processing or just release it back out into the creek," Jake Hansen with the city of Omaha said.
Hansen said the city has an odor control system that will deal with the risk of odors being released into the surrounding area.
"This type of facility only runs when there's wet weather, so when those smells kick up, it's not at a time when most people are walking around in the neighborhood, having a picnic or anything like that," he said.
Tony Amato's family has owned a restaurant in the area for more than 25 years. He said he's taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the project.
"If it doesn't bother me my dad always said don't worry about it. So, I guess if it doesn't bother me now I'm not going to worry about it, but when it comes to if the smell or the odor protrudes away from their building and into ours and you would be able to smell it coming into Amato's, kind of not the smell you want coming into a restaurant," Amato said.
The project will cost between $80 and $100 million. Some believe that the city could have saved taxpayer money if the problem was addressed years ago.
"It's probably the City of Omaha treating water that didn't need treating if it had been addressed properly in the first place," Nils Erickson said.
He owns nearby Rainbow Recording Studio.
Hansen said the facility is necessary because cleaning up the creek will help clean bodies of water located downstream.
"The downstream watershed, the Missouri river, which then creates then goes into the Mississippi river that goes into the Gulf of Mexico," Hansen explained.
The facility is expected to begin operations in 2023.