New sewer line to be built

The regional landfill south of Fort Dodge will move forward on constructing a new liquid waste line to bypass the Coleman District sewers, where residents say the liquid causes bad odors.

The proposal, prepared by McClure Engineering, calls for a force main line from the landfill up to Fort Dodge’s municipal septic sewer system, to carry away leachate – the liquid that trickles down through the accumulated waste in a landfill. The estimated cost of the project was $520,720.

The executive board of the North Central Iowa Regional Solid Waste Agency voted unanimously for the plan Tuesday evening.

Leachate must be collected and treated, and not allowed to seep into the ground under Iowa DNR regulations. Failure to handle leachate properly was one of several alleged environmental violations found last year under previous landfill staff that have led to potential legal action from the Iowa attorney general’s office which may result in a fine. New leachate handling has since been built at the landfill.

The Coleman District is not part of the city of Fort Dodge, and has had an agreement with the waste agency for the past five years to allow leachate to flow through its private septic sewer system. This sewer eventually empties into the Fort Dodge sewer system. The waste agency has paid $300 per month to the Coleman sewer board as part of this arrangement.

Coleman residents have complained about a smell they say comes from the leachate in the past, saying it comes into some homes and can be smelled outside at times.

The five-year agreement expired on July 1, but an agreement between the city of Fort Dodge, the district and the waste agency will not run out until January 2014. Coleman representatives did not give any indication before July that the agreement would not be renewed, according to Interim Waste Agency Director Cindy Turkle.

At the agency’s June 17 meeting, Coleman sewer board members were present. When asked, they did not give any reasons that the agreement might not be renewed.

Engineer Derick Anderson, regional manager with McClure Engineering, said the estimated cost would include taking samples to see if the leachate contains levels of hydrogen sulfate that could cause a smell. Treatment options would be recommended if necessary.

There are multiple ways to treat a smell if it’s found, Turkle said, including aerating the liquid before it reaches the sewer, or installing cylinders with carbon material that would absorb the hydrogen sulfate.

Board member Harlan Hansen asked why this wasn’t being done already.

“The only reason we’re doing this is because of the odor in the Coleman District, so why don’t we fix the odor and not have to do all the (new) line,” he said. “It’s been going on since before I was on the board.”

The Coleman residents have been clear they are not interested in renewing the agreement, said Board Chairman Mark Campbell.

Dennis Jones, who lives in the district, said he hadn’t heard these options before.

“They’ve come up with different ideas,” Jones said. “We don’t really know if they followed through or not.”

Whenever issues have come up, and the waste agency was contacted, the agency came out to deal with the issues, Campbell said.

“We asked that you talk to us, let us know when that occurs so we can go down and check it out. But nobody’s ever come back,” Turkle said.

“You were down there with us, and you said you didn’t smell it,” Jones said.

“I haven’t been down there in, I don’t know how long. It’s been a year,” Turkle said.

The board has stated before that smell should not be coming into houses if the house’s plumbing is installed correctly.

Campbell estimated the project would take six months, which means it may not be completed by January.

The biggest uncertainty with the times will be getting easements to install the line across private ground, said Anderson.

“When you’re dealing with easements, you have to get those easements pinned down before you can give an exact date. The goal would be to move full speed ahead, and get that moving as quickly as possible,” he said.

“This is easily achievable in that time frame if we can get the easements and get it moving forward.”

Campbell said the board will keep the Coleman District up to date on how things are progressing, and look at its options if it appears the project will run longer.