CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Alfonso Wherry remembers the first time he smelled it about five years ago.
“It’s just horrible when they first bring it out. It lingered around, lingered, lingered. We didn't know what it was, never smelled anything like this,” Wherry.
“This” was sludge.
It’s a common practice—something cities and towns have done for 25 years: Treat waste then spread it on fields in rural areas. Farmers ask for the material called biosolids to use as fertilizer.
The government monitors the process, but people living in Chester County are fighting to stop it.
“Trying to tell them, just don’t bring it here. Don’t issue that permit to bring it back into Chester County,” Wherry said.
Charlote Mecklenburg Utilties has several sites in North and South Carolina where they spread sludge.
“One of the things we’re really proud of at CMUD is we have not had an odor complaint in at least five years,” said CMUD spokeswoman Karen Whichard.
But people living in Chester County say they've complained about the odor for years from CMU sites and others, and now CMU's South Carolina permit is up for renewal.
It's a chance for Alfonso and his neighbors to have their complaints formally heard.
“We just want it to stop, that’s the thing—really want it to stop,” Wherry noted.
The public comment period just opened and ends next month.