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Fountain City Council hears recommendations for WWTP

Fri, May 9th, 2014
Posted in Fountain Government

The Fountain City Council listens to the presentation on Fountain's WWTP by the U of M Capstone project students. Photo by Barb Jeffers

The Fountain City Council met on Thursday, May 1, at 6 p.m. instead of the normal 7:30 p.m. in order to accommodate guests whom they hoped had answers the council has been looking for in relation to problems with the wastewater treatment plant.

All council members were present along with City Clerk Ronda Flattum, Police Chief Tom Mosher, and city maintenance worker John Hanson. Others attending included City Engineer David Morrill, representatives from Valley Design, and a representative from PeopleService.

Brian Oakley from Barr Engineering Co. began the Senior Design Presentation by introducing The Capstone Design Team consisting of University of Minnesota students Nora Pederson, Kathryn Klauch, Vicki Larson, and Kipp Sande. Brian Oakley and Todd DeJournett with Barr Engineering were both mentors for the team. Brian made it clear to the audience that the students did all of the work on the project themselves.

Nora Pederson explained the problem with the WWTP that they were given as an assignment at the beginning of the semester. The problem was that the effluent (liquid waste or sewage) levels of nitrogen were consistently going over 10 mg/L, which is the permitted amount allowed by the MPCA.

Important features of the Fountain wastewater treatment plant were highlighted including:

•High variable flow because it is a small town of about 400 people.

•The Valley Design metal finishing facility accounts for about 40-60 percent of the incoming flow to the wastewater treatment plant and out of that 40-60 percent (which varies given the hour of the day and day of the week) most of it is the effluent from the finishing processes rather than bathrooms on site.

•It is rare for a wastewater treatment plant to have a nitrogen permit limit in the State of Minnesota but given the karst geological conditions of Fountain the city is required to have one.

•The plant does have a limited amount of aeration and recycling controls.

•Prior to entering the WWTP most of the wastewater goes through septic tanks which lowers the BOD (essentially food for the microbes in the WWTP) and so a carbon source called Micro C is added to the effluent of the plant.

Nora Pederson then explained important terms when explaining the process at the WWTP. These terms are nitrification and denitrification. Both are part of a biological process that work together to eliminate nitrogen from wastewater. Nitrification is a process that occurs in the aerobic tank that converts ammonia to nitrate, which is toxic and why they need to get it out of the system. Denitrification is a process that occurs in the anoxic tank that converts nitrate to nitrogen gas which is then able to leave the water.

Kipp Sande then explained that the team had determined that denitrification was not occurring. The root causes that the team feels are making denitrification not occurring are: 1) Dissolved Oxygen (too much dissolved oxygen in the anoxic tank will result in the inhibition of Denitrification) and 2) The Sludge Age may not be high enough (when the sludge is too young the bacteria are not mature enough to efficiently and consistently perform denitrification).

Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS) is a measure of the biomass in the tank. The greater the MLSS the greater the sludge age. As the MLSS increased the total effluent nitrogen level decreased which is why the team believes the sludge age may be an issue.

Kathryn Klarich stated that the recommendations by the Capstone Design Team include running a total suspended solids test (which will tell the MLSS concentration) one time per week for the rest of the plants life, and creating a variation in the MLSS concentration as a test to see what the optimal MLSS concentration is. Kathryn also noted that these tests should be run in the winter as well as summer as the nitrogen is typically a lot lower in the summer.

Vicki Larson then recommended that the city set up a couple testing days spread out over a one week period and also to test during overnight hours during this time as well due to the fact that the team believes the highest oxygen levels will be overnight. She also stated that air lift pumps may also be adding too much oxygen to wastewater and the team highly recommends the city purchase a monitor that can collect data 24/7.

After performing testing and it is found these items are not the problems the team does have additional ideas for Fountain’s wastewater treatment plant but believe the recommendations given will solve the problem.

The design team then thanked the city for the chance to work on such an interesting project and also to their mentors from Barr Engineering Company. Mayor Richard Kujath thanked the team for all the work they had done for the City of Fountain. All members of the audience that gave the Capstone Design Team a round of applause for their hard work, the informational presentation and recommendations.

The council then returned to the remaining agenda items. Consent agenda items approved included minutes from the April 3, 2014 meeting, treasurer’s report, and monthly city bills and Fire Department bills.

Police Chief Mosher then gave his report to the council. On April 7, 2014 Officer Mosher attended a hands-on use of force training. On April 8 there was a report of raccoons under a deck. City Clerk Ronda Flattum and the Fillmore County Sherriff’s Department along with Officer Mosher received numerous phones calls in April from a couple individuals related to an assault that took place and items that were stolen. April 17 Mosher attended four hours League of Minnesota training. Mailed citation to individual for issuing a check on a closed account.

On April 23, 2014 at 4:20 a.m. received a phone call that Willie’s Grocery and Locker had been broken into. A Kubota had been stolen in Chatfield then left behind Drury’s Furniture where a pickup was then stolen. The front window of Willie’s was broken with a cement block and several hundred dollars worth of items were taken. The stolen pickup was also in Lanesboro for a short time and the suspects were interrupted trying to kick in a door. Police Chief Mosher worked with the Lanesboro and Chatfield Police Departments to come up with a suspect. By 11 a.m. the Kubota had been returned to its owner, the pickup had been returned to the owner and most of the stolen items from Willie’s were retrieved. Officer Mosher stated he took over 100 photos of the damage and other evidence. Some evidence was found 20 miles from Fountain. Officer Mosher has sent some evidence to the BCA for known comparison testing.

Chief Mosher expects charges to be filed against the suspects soon. Officer Mosher wants to remind residents to keep things locked up around your home and invest in locks saying that “even a cheap lock helps” because if people have to break in they leave evidence behind. April 26 Officer Mosher attended four hours of pursuit training in Rochester, Minn.

In City Maintenance there is septic pumping to be done. This will be done in the fall of 2014. John Hanson is working on removing the concrete in the vacant lot behind the Fire Hall. Jason Sethre talked with Ronda Flattum in relation to a sink hole in front of his home saying that he has tried to fill it in and it keeps appearing. He is concerned about possible injuries occurring. John Hanson will access the sinkhole and determine what can possibly be done to solve the problem.

The council approved adjusting the water bill for Jason and Amanda Sethre after a faulty water meter was replaced. John Hanson will be taking PTO from May 27 - 30.

Ronda Flattum will attend required election training on Tuesday May 13, 2014. The city office will be closed that afternoon. Root River Ag requested being given an address. After researching it was found that the location had been given an address in the past.

In Old Business a consent letter received from AT&T for enhancements to existing equipment on the water tower was approved for signature. An estimate by Duane Gilbertson Construction for steel sheeting on the city shed and sand shed was accepted. Funds will come out of the capital improvement fund for the improvements. Jim Schott made a motion to check on the price of a Dissolved Oxygen meter for the WWTP that would read levels on a constant basis. Flushing of hydrants was touched on and will be discussed further at next month’s meeting.

The city council approved a donation of $1,000 to the Trail Days celebration which will take place on June 7, 2014 with many activities planned.

The city council will access which streets need to be blacktopped in town and get bids for possible work to be done. Two streets were Pine Street and Third Street. The City of Fountain has received two defibrillators to place in the City Hall and Community Hall.

Meeting adjourned.

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