TCEQ, city of Pearland seek source of Shadow Creek Ranch odor

The source of a mysterious smell bothering some residents in Shadow Creek Ranch continues to elude officials attempting to resolve the issue.


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality—which has been working with the city of Pearland—received 58 odor complaints from residents within the community between Sept. 23 and Nov. 10. Some complainants said the stench has been a problem for years.


The TCEQ has been investigating the complaints since August, and 11 investigations were ongoing as of March 1, according to TCEQ media relations specialist Andrew Keese.


“All potential sources for the odors are being evaluated,” he said.


TCEQ, city of Pearland seek source of Shadow Creek Ranch odorSeveral potential sources in the area are being investigated. Akzo Nobel Surface Chemistry and Blue Ridge Landfill are two of the businesses the TCEQ has examined.


Michael Leech, Pearland assistant director of public works, said the city has received more than 100 calls from residents reporting a foul smell in Shadow Creek Ranch. These complaints prompted staff to conduct tests on the city’s sanitary sewer infrastructure.


“Our crews went out and inspected every one of the more than 1,100 manholes that are in the Shadow Creek Ranch area to make sure odors weren’t emanating from them,” Leech said.


City staff found no problems with any manholes and also dismissed the Reflection Bay wastewater treatment plant as the source, Leech said.


As complaints continued coming in, the city began plotting the location of callers to compile a map to help determine a cause. Residents are encouraged to note a description of the smell and the time of day it occurs.


“We’re able to identify areas where the calls are coming from and at what times,” Leech said.


The city also uses a local weather station to determine the wind direction at the time the reported odor occurs, he said. Although the data maps do not show a concentration from which the complaints are coming, a particular wind direction appears to be involved.


“It’s sort of all over the subdivision,” Leech said. “It seems like the calls come in when the winds are coming from the north and the west.”


Residents have described the odor as being similar to chemicals as well as burning, rotting garbage, sewage and rotten eggs, according to the TCEQ. All complainants said the smell occurs only from around
6 p.m.-8 a.m.


Maria Shaw, Shadow Creek Ranch general manager, was unavailable for comment.


Leech encouraged residents to continue to report odors to the city. With no source yet identified, he said the more information residents supply, the better.


“This [type of] issue is new to me,” Leech said. “An issue of this scale and that is this challenging to [resolve] is very new to me, and I’ve been in the government/municipal business for almost 20 years.”

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