Pumping the Poop: Clifton Sanitation Switching Wastewater Systems

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

It's a smelly, dirty job but the Clifton Sanitation Sistrict has to do it-- workers are draining and emptying wastewater ponds to change over to a new system.

The district is doing the job to keep up with new EPA standards and change to a more efficient cleaning process but for neighbors in the area, an unpleasant odor may be an understatement for what will be in the air in a few days and the stench will last for weeks.

Keith Ruck is spent his Monday boating on the water, but he was not exactly trolling for fish.

"That's our big joke, we call them trout terds," Ruck told 11 News on Monday.

He's worked for Clifton Sanitation for six years and says he's had to do some dirty work in the wastewater lagoons, but not like this.

"This will probably be the crappiest job that we have to do because of all the slugde in here."

He's rowing his boat to the pumps that shoot oxygen to treat the waste and shutting them off. Then the water is dumped in another lagoon while ruck cleans the first one. That process continues until all three lagoons are cleaned out.

The Clifton Sanitation District is changing over to its new, more efficient system which will process more than one and a half times as much water, meet higher EPA standards and keep up with growth.

Manager Brian Woods says it will not be pleasant people in this area.

"It's going to be a very strong odor depending on the wind," Woods told 11 News on Monday.

He says the district has spent thousands of dollars on special chemicals to help weaken the fumes and out of 42 years, he's hoping people can tolerate this for a few weeks.

"I think the majority of people want to flush their toilets and know that it goes away and that they don't have a problem after that. This is one minor few times in the history of the district we're going to experience something like this," said Woods.

And for Keith Ruck, he's hoping the district won't have another project like this for a while but says he's starting to get used to it.

"They just don't bother you after a while. You just try not to think of the syringes or things that could be floating out there."

And although he may not be thinking of what's on his gloves or in the water, he is keeping his sense of humor.

"Going fishing! I don't know if they're biting but I'm gonna try."

Clifton sanitation officials tell 11 News there is more than 33 million gallons of water and it will take two to five days to drain it all.

Officials say the smell will be present in about a one-half mile radius and will last for up to a month.

The decommission and reclamation process will cost $950,000 dollars.

The Clifton Sanitation District says once workers finish cleaning the lagoons they'll cover them up with dirt and they'll turn it into agricultural land. Officials say one business is looking at putting a vineyard there.

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