A 120-acre site 2 miles west of Le Mars will be the location for a new $16.9 million wastewater plant.
A permit approved by the Plymouth County Board of Adjustment Monday allows the land owned by the city of Le Mars to be used to treat wastewater.
The site is in Washington Township Section 12 and was purchased about 10 years ago to establish the city's sludge lagoon which stores treated waste.
A mechanical plant to be built on the land will treat 500,000 million gallons of wastewater a day from Dean Foods and Wells Enterprises, according to Ron Kayser, city of Le Mars wastewater superintendent.
City Administrator Scott Langel said a portion of the industries' waste would be treated at the new plant and the rest of the waste would go through the existing treatment plant within the city.
During the meeting Monday, Kayser explained the process to be used in the treatment system at the rural location.
"Basically all the waste goes into like a bacteria soup," he told the board of adjustment.
The solid part of the waste is processed by the bacteria and the waste settles out in another tank that is part of the treatment process, he said.
"The clear liquid is decanted off the top," Kayser said.
The treated wastewater is pumped back to the existing city of Le Mars treatment facility and discharged into the Floyd River, Langel said.
"Ninety-eight to 99 percent of it will come back to the current treatment plant as treated water and the other 1-2 percent will go into the lagoon," Langel said.
Treated waste that is not wastewater will be stored in a new 11-million-gallon lagoon and then applied to farm land as fertilizer, according to the wastewater superintendent.
Board of Adjustment Chairwoman Nancy Anderson asked if there were any contaminants in the treated waste.
"No, it makes really good fertilizer because it's been through the system long enough, the pathogens have all been reduced," Kayser told Anderson.
The city's current wastewater treatment plant is an anaerobic system.
Methane gas and hydrogen sulfide from the treatment process may produce odor at the existing plant.
The new facility will treat waste using an aerobic process which involves aeration.
"There is very much less odor (from treating waste) with this mechanical plant," Kayser said.
The rural location on land the city already owns was chosen for the new treatment plant, he said.
The city needs more wastewater treatment capacity for the the largest industries, Dean Foods and Wells Enterprises, according to Kayser.
"Rather than keep adding onto our plant which has kind of outlived it's usefulness, we want to start getting away from town and getting a little more modern plant that treats waste," he said.
Langel said he wanted to be sure the board of adjustment and the community understood that all future increased capacity for the city to treat waste would be converted from the existing treatment plant to the rural site.
Board member Shirley Benson asked about the possibility of flooding at the location.
Benson gave the example of a record amount of rainfall.
Zoning administrator Alan Lucken said the location was "way above the flood plain."
The board of adjustment didn't have anyone from the public comment on the proposed permit to allow the land to be used for a mechanical wastewater treatment facility and a lagoon.
After the meeting, Langel said construction on the new treatment facility could begin in January of next year.