by Dennis Dalman
An intolerable stench in the vicinity of Sartell’s sanitary-sewer system’s lift station 1 just might be solved, at long last – or so the city council and others, with noses pinched, are hoping.
At its last meeting, the council approved two proposals that might bring a fix. One is to install aerators at lift stations 4 and 9; the other is to add chemicals (hydrogen peroxide, primarily) into both lift station 4 and the olfactory-offender lift station 1.
The council approved those measures unanimously, 5-5.
A lift station is a collection area in which wastewater is pumped from a lower to a higher elevation so it can continue to flow to its destination via gravity.
Station 1 is located between the Walmart area and the Sauk River in south Sartell. All of Sartell’s gravity sewer lines and lift stations direct sewage and other wastes to station 1 from which point it flows to the St. Cloud Wastewater Plant for treatment. Sartell and other area cities contract with St. Cloud for treating wastewater.
The chemical addition will take place on a one-month trial basis when the weather warms up in spring or early summer at a time when the odors are most offensive. A neighbor who lives near station 1 has said repeatedly he cannot even have guests outside in the warm months because of the stench.
The aerators in two of the lift stations can be installed soon. It’s hoped the effect of the aerators will help reduce – or better yet, eliminate – the noxious smells as the effluent arrives at station 1 and then flows south.
A long-term solution for the aeration/chemical additions could cost anywhere from $35,000 to $82,000 per year.
Sartell City Public Works Director John Kothenbeutel gave a summary of the station-1 stench to the council members. In 2006, the “old” lift-station 1 was moved about a quarter mile north. Odor problems began from the get-go. The Sartell Public Works Department checked other cities in the state, such as Bloomington, where a carbon-filtering method seemed to work well. The method was tried in station 1. Didn’t work. More carbon attempts were tried. Nope.
Then, plastic covers and sandbags were tried. That worked. For about five or six years that seemed to work. No complaints. Then the horrendous stench began again.
Permanent covers were built over the top of the station. More problems, more smells. In 2016, Sartell tried using a bio-filter like St. Cloud did. Nope. Didn’t work.
The old covers were placed back over station 1.
“We worked very hard,” Kothenbeutel said. “There’s no one simple answer, I believe.”
Through station 1, about 1.2-million gallons of wastewater flow daily on the way to St. Cloud, Kothenbeutel noted.
A big reason for the problem, he explained, is Sartell’s wastewater disposal system runs form north to south and all of its pipes and lift stations channel the liquid gunk to station 1, then to St. Cloud. Some cities have multiple-pipe systems, but Sartell has just one last conduit (station 1) where all of the nasty water (and odors) make their stinky journey to the treatment plant.
Council members are hoping the new proposals will work, but they are open to considering structural changes to at least part of the city’s wastewater infrastructure system if these latest efforts fail.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.