West Fargo is one step closer to decommissioning its lagoon system, after it officially began sending its wastewater to Fargo last week.
"We flushed the proverbial toilet," City Engineer Dustin Scott said. "We're sending some wastewater to Fargo as of last Thursday."
In June 2017, West Fargo city commissioners unanimously agreed to a 20-year agreement with the city of Fargo that would allow West Fargo to send its wastewater east at a cost of about $3 per 1,000 gallons of sewage over the first four years. The city expects to initially send up to an estimated 1.5 million gallons per day to Fargo, which could grow to a maximum average flow of 6 million gallons a day.
The lagoon system requires one staff member and minimal maintenance, costing the city roughly $200,000 per year.
Construction began in 2018 on an underground pipeline that takes the wastewater from West Fargo north and then east along 19th Avenue North to Fargo's regional treatment plant.
The shipping of sewage would then allow West Fargo to stop using its wastewater lagoon system. The 460-acre lagoon system has garnered numerous complaints each spring when the thawing of the system causes an annual stink throughout much of the city.
"We're still hopeful we can be fully decommissioned in five to 10 years," Scott said.
However, the city will retain one lagoon.
City staff has estimated it generally takes about two years per 50 acres to decommission ponds, which may cost West Fargo up to about $5 million.
Commissioner Mike Thorstad said when and if the diversion undergoes construction, it may be useful to coordinate using the excess soil from the diversion project to cover the lagoons once the decommission process begins.
"Coordination will certainly be key; timing is everything," Scott said. "We expect to do the first one or two. If it's going to be ready, we'd like to be able to accept (the soil). There's more to come on that."