West Fargo Waste Stabilization Ponds (Lagoons)

About the lagoons

The City of West Fargo utilizes a 460 acre network of waste stabilization ponds near 12th Avenue N. to treat wastewater (water that has been used in the home, in a business, or as part of an industrial process) that comes from the sewer system.

  • Waste stabilization ponds, also called lagoons, treat wastewater in man-made ponds through aerobic process to break down biological matter.
  • Waste stabilization ponds are regarded as the most cost-effective wastewater treatment system option and can be found in a majority of municipalities in the U.S.

Spring odor

During the transition from winter to spring, the ponds can emit a strong, unpleasant odor as the normal, organic treatment process restarts.

  • During the winter, ice forms along the top of the lagoons, eliminating the oxygen supply and stopping the normal aerobic treatment to breakdown waste.
  • Because of this, a sludge of undigested biological matter forms on the bottom of the lagoon.
  • When temperatures warm up, the sludge moves to the top of the lagoon where the ice has melted and a strong, unpleasant odor is released into the air.
  • However, the warming temperatures also stimulate the growth of algae, which eats up the source of the smell and helps to restore the normal process.
  • This may occur multiple times if the temperatures rise and fall during the spring warm up, but the final cycle usually last two weeks.
  • The Department of Health monitors the smell from the ponds and the odor has never reached a level that causes alarm.

Spring odor mitigation

The City of West Fargo does monitor the situation and tries to mitigate the issue for residents.

  • A 60-acre pond was added in 2014 to accommodate the growth of the city.
  • The City of West Fargo introduces microbes to the ponds as soon as it is possible to help speed up the ponds’ transition process.