Something Smelly in Ellicott City

Did you smell that?

Maybe you read that Main Street stores were opening one after the other today, so you decided to drive down to the Historic District.

As you neared, maybe you thought, like I did, “Uh oh, do I need a new catalytic converter?”

Or maybe you thought – like someone who called 911 did – “is that gas I smell?”

You’d be wrong on both counts, but there was a particularly strong odor, strongest at the top of Main Street, Tuesday morning that led to turned-up noses and hurried paces among pedestrians. 

The sulfur-y smell, it turns out, was related to the sewage overflow that saw millions of gallons of untreated sewage emptied into the Little Patuxent River in Savage. But it wasn’t raw sewage that stunk up Ellicott City.

“It was a ‘diversion pump,’” Howard County Chief of Staff Jessica Feldmark told Patch. She wasn’t sure if that was the technical term for it, but that’s what it does -- diverts.

“When the treatment center went down, to limit the amount of sewage going into the river, we diverted some of it to Baltimore County,” she said. 

When the pump that helps move the sewage along on its journey to Baltimore County is turned on, “It emits an … ‘aroma’” Feldmark said; a sulfur smell not unlike that of a broken catalytic converter, or rotten eggs.

County Executive Ken Ulman announced just after noon on Tuesday that one of the two feeder lines that powers the Savage wastewater treatment facility was back online. 

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