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How we're treated.

The movement for a sewer system began in 1909. An election was held to determine whether the council should expend $32,000 on a sewer system. The measure was defeated by a margin of 83 votes, with the major opposition coming from the ladies of the community. At the same time, the question of

how to serve a new school building with sewer capabilities came up. The council decided to build a sewer system to serve the school and 14 blocks in the center of town. The sewer system along with a septic tank for treatment was put to bid in February 1920 and a low bid of $14,706.88 was accepted by the council.


In 1941, the first wastewater treatment plant was constructed at the north end of “A” Avenue at a cost of $40,000. The first plant was what is known as a trickling filter.


In 1975, the trickling filter plant was replaced by a lagoon treatment system. The location of the treatment facility was moved from the north end of “A” Avenue to the present location just east of the airport. This move-in location required that a lift station be added to the wastewater collection system.

The new lagoon was a controlled discharge lagoon with discharges taking place twice per year, in the spring and fall. The lift station pumps the wastewater to the lagoons using 2 pumps rated at 60 horsepower with each rated at 1800 gallons per minute. These pumps are 23 feet below ground level.


In 2003, this lagoon system was rebuilt as a continuous discharge lagoon. Aeration equipment was added to assist in the treatment process and the storage cells were arranged to provide two cells with aeration and a third cell called a quiescent cell. No aeration is present in this last cell which allows any remaining suspended solids to settle out.


In 2006, as part of the USDA grant, the pumps and the control equipment at the lift station were replaced. The original controls were located towards the bottom of the structure that housed the pumps. These controls were replaced and moved up to above ground level. The new controls have the capability of running at variable speeds dependent on the amount of flow being received by the lift station. During normal flow, the pumps operate one at a time and only run at about 40% of full speed reducing the amount of power consumed. During high flow periods, both pumps run simultaneously at 100% of capacity. The new pumps and controls were designed, ordered, and installed by utility personnel. Based on preliminary engineering estimates this resulted in a savings of nearly $100,000.


Today, under orders from the Iowa Department of Natural resources, Traer is investigating additional processes for the treatment facility. These additional processes are meant to reduce the levels of ammonia nitrogen present in the discharge to the receiving stream and to meet the limits for fecal coliform in the new operating permit means of disinfection. Under the timelines in the new permit, we will have to be in compliance with the limits established in the new DNR permit by January 31, 2023.


Residential 22,710,076 gallons $125,318.90

Commercial 7,712,393 gallons $28,401.37



– John Madden

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