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Just when it seemed the sewage smell wafting over the west side of Hollister from the industrial sewer ponds had abated, a fire in PG&E lines that help power the aerators caused them to shut down Thursday night, prompting fears from officials that the smell would return.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velasquez said on his Facebook page Friday night that 'unfortunately, we can't seem to catch a break with the industrial treatment plant," which accepts and processes effluent from tomato processing at San Benito Foods in downtown Hollister. He said generators have been brought in to provide the power needed for the aerators, which help negate the smell.

"Once again it's going to take time to catch things up," Velasquez said. "Yes, this stinks!"

At a Hollister City Council meeting on Aug. 8, Manny Molina of Veolia Water — which operates the city's sewer treatment plant — said the first reports of the foul aroma were registered on July 27 and eventually led to a meeting with Velasquez, City Manager William Avera, Veolia, the city engineering department and San Benito Foods.

On July 31, Veolia requested that San Benito Foods discharge an additional 200,000 gallons of water per day to help flush the system and the company immediately responded. At the council meeting, Molina said odor complaints had "dropped off significantly" and that "now we're down to the standard tomato smell that you're going to smell" and away from the "more obnoxious odors."