New Wastewater Treatment Plant Opening in Mid-May
Updated: May 3, 2019
By Joe Morey
The new aerated Lagoon Wastewater Treatment plant located at the LCO Public Works Building on Hwy K is set to be fully operational in the middle of May. The new building constructed next to the lagoon will also be open and home to the Public Works department.
The new lagoon system will pull waste from a much larger area than the previous mechanical Sequence Batch Reactor system and in a much more environmentally friendly and energy efficient process.
LCO Public Works Director Willard Gouge Jr explained the process of how the waste is treated through the new system, which has three lagoons, the first of which pulls in the waste at which time aeration begins by feeding it oxygen and microbes eat the waste. The treated water then filters into the second pond and goes through the process again. Once the waste water is treated in the third pond it is 99% water with solids settling to the bottom of the ponds. Gouge said the water then settles into another pond where good bacteria feed on whatever waste remains that couldn’t be broken down through the three ponds.
The water from the last pond naturally feeds into nearby seepage cells and filters into the ground. Gouge said they will have a monitoring well downstream to insure the water has been properly filtrated.
“The first three ponds have a leak-proof material covering the ground below the water and the fourth pond has a natural setting,” Gouge noted. He explained the new facility has a new laboratory where their team can do testing of the wastewater on a regular basis to guarantee the bacteria are good within the system and doing its job.
“We can analyze things here rather than have to send it out to a laboratory,” Gouge said.
There is also a new building with a pump system where all the waste comes in before being pumped into the first pond. The waste comes all the way from the LCO College, the Tribal Government campus (Tribal Office, Housing, WOJB, K-12 School and Boys and Girls Club), Head Start, the Sevenwinds Casino, C-Store and the communities of Akikaandag and Giiwedin.
“With the new Lagoon Treatment Plant, we are creating more capacity for economic development in the Highway K and B corridor. We will also be able to expand our collection system to remove failing septic systems and connect homes to the new waste water treatment plant,” Gouge said.
The current wastewater facility treats 56,000 gallons per day but the new system will immediately be able to serve 175,000 gallons and is capable of treating 240,000 per day.
LCO Secretary Treasurer Jason Weaver commented, with the ability to treat more wastewater, we will be able to develop new collection systems to help treat more communities such as Round Lake, Drytown, Poppletown, Schoolhouse, Bacon Square and Bacon Strip. The Tribe will now be able to create new housing communities with expanded water and wastewater infrastructure which will help the housing shortage. The ability to build new economic opportunities is realistic with our new infrastructure.
“This reduces the amount of time and energy it takes to service each unit’s individual septic system,” Gouge explained. “The increased treatment capacity will also allow Sevenwinds to expand their operations in regards to water usage.”
Gouge added, “The aerated lagoon requires more time to treat the wastewater but requires less energy. It is also a safer alternative to the aging mechanical unit we now operate.” He went on to say the current plant represents a safety hazard for our operators, as the pumps and other significant parts are located in the middle of a 24-foot basin, which is usually filled with wastewater.
“This style of treatment has been phased out in most places for less energy intense mechanical means,” Gouge stated. He added the Sequence Batch Reactor we now operate is aging and has significant operational issues.
“The controls which operate all of the electronic components are outdated and have had band-aid fixes for a number of years, along with outdated plans and schematics,” Gouge said.
The cost of the new lagoon system was $5.5 million with $2.2 million covered in grants. Gouge said an additional $1.6 million in grant funding came from the Indian Health Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We also had Grant funding in the amount of $600,000 from Shakopee Mdewankton Tribe,” Gouge said. “The tribe used Enbridge settlement funds for their part of the cost so we will not have to pass the cost of construction on to our existing customers, as is typical for other infrastructure projects.”
Photos by Joe Morey, News Editor