With the weather warming up, there’s been a familiar and unfortunate odor in the air on the south side of town.
The expansion project at the wastewater treatment facility, which has the promise of fixing the odor problem for good, is behind schedule. That means things are not yet running at full speed, and the odor will remain an issue in the short term.
According to a project update sent to the Focus on Tuesday by Perham City Manager Kelcey Klemm, the expansion has encountered “several hiccups” that have led to the contractor not meeting a March 31 interim deadline.
“Ice has mostly come off the secondary holding ponds and there is some odor,” wrote Klemm.
The main issue has to do with aeration. As of Tuesday, one new blower was adequately pumping air into the ponds, and a second blower was scheduled to start Wednesday. Another two are expected to be installed next week.
“Hopefully the turnover will not last long,”Klemm wrote.
The wastewater system is currently comprised of five ponds: two pre-aeration ponds that provide most of the treatment to the wastewater and three aerated holding ponds that provide some treatment but mostly serve as storage.
Over the past couple months, one of the pre-aeration ponds was emptied, the old air lines were removed, and new air headers were installed, according to the project update. At the same time, the four blowers in the blower building were switched out. So far, two of the four new blowers have been installed.
The first pre-aeration pond was what was supposed to be fully functional by March 31. Now, it is expected to be up and running by next week.
Once that pond is operational, the contractor will be able to draw down the second pre-aeration pond to begin the same process on that one.
Construction on a new holding pond has started, and that part of the project is still expected to be functional by the end of the summer or early fall.
Odors from the city’s wastewater treatment facility have been an issue for at least the last couple of years. The major expansion project at the plant began this past winter; it will increase capacity at the facility, and is expected to put an end to the capacity and odor problems into the foreseeable future.