ROCHELLE – Residents may experience an increase in odors throughout town beginning this week and lasting approximately 2-to-3 months.
The wastewater treatment plant is using $6.9 million dollars from a 20-year low interest Illinois EPA loan to upgrade different parts of their facility. One part of their plant upgrades is an anaerobic lagoon rehabilitation project, which is necessary for the plant to continue with operations.
“It is a 10-million-gallon anaerobic lagoon that we are going to remove the sludge out of, replace the upper and lower liners and rehabilitate the gas handling building and equipment,” explained Adam Lanning, superintendent of water and water reclamation.
The process of removing the sludge will consist of using heavy machinery to either pump the sludge out or move it with excavating equipment, depending on the consistency.
The majority of the buildup comes from the factories on the south side of town that send their raw sewage into the lagoon. The lagoon is then used as a pre-treatment facility to help lessen the demand on the main treatment plant.
“It is primarily taking waste from the south side Rochelle Foods, but it is pretty high strength sewage. It has built up sludge over the years to the point where the lagoon is full and now we have to remove all of that sludge,” said Lanning
The lagoon has been in service for 25 years and it is recommended that this process be completed every 20-to-25 years.
The odor will be released into the air when the sludge is being removed from the lagoon. Since this is the first time the lagoon is being opened up for cleaning, treatment plant workers are not sure how strong the odor will be or how far into town it will travel, if at all.
Once all of the sludge is removed from the lagoon, it will be transported and used as a soil mender and fertilizer for agricultural land.