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. 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.
For information about the city’s plans to send wastewater to the City of Fargo for treatment and decommission the lagoons, visit http://westfargond.gov/757/Connection-to-City-of-Fargo-Wastewater-S.
City of West Fargo Waste Stabilization Ponds Fact Sheet