West Fargo Waste Stabilization Ponds (Lagoons)

About the lagoons

The City of West Fargo utilizes a 460 acre network of waste stabilization ponds near 12th Avenue N. to treat wastewater (water that has been used in the home, in a business, or as part of an industrial process) that comes from the sewer system.

  • Waste stabilization ponds, also called lagoons, treat wastewater in man-made ponds through aerobic process to break down biological matter.
  • Waste stabilization ponds are regarded as the most cost-effective wastewater treatment system option and can be found in a majority of municipalities in the U.S.

Spring odor

During the transition from winter to spring, the ponds can emit a strong, unpleasant odor as the normal, organic treatment process restarts.

  • During the winter, ice forms along the top of the lagoons, eliminating the oxygen supply and stopping the normal aerobic treatment to breakdown waste.
  • Because of this, a sludge of undigested biological matter forms on the bottom of the lagoon.
  • When temperatures warm up, the sludge moves to the top of the lagoon where the ice has melted and a strong, unpleasant odor is released into the air.
  • However, the warming temperatures also stimulate the growth of algae, which eats up the source of the smell and helps to restore the normal process.
  • This may occur multiple times if the temperatures rise and fall during the spring warm up, but the final cycle usually last two weeks.
  • The Department of Health monitors the smell from the ponds and the odor has never reached a level that causes alarm.

Spring odor mitigation

The City of West Fargo does monitor the situation and tries to mitigate the issue for residents.

  • A 60-acre pond was added in 2014 to accommodate the growth of the city.
  • The City of West Fargo introduces microbes to the ponds as soon as it is possible to help speed up the ponds’ transition process.

Lagoon decommissioning

Eventually, the lagoons in West Fargo will be decommissioned.

  • The City of West Fargo decided to address current and future capacity demands for wastewater treatment by coordinating an agreement with the City of Fargo. This agreement states that West Fargo can eventually send 100 percent of their wastewater flow to the City of Fargo.
  • This will allow the City of West Fargo to decommission the existing lagoon system.
  • A conveyance system that will deliver West Fargo’s wastewater to a connection point at the intersection of Ninth Avenue N and Ninth Street NE was completed in October 2019.
  • Following the connection to Fargo, the City of West Fargo will decommission the lagoons over time, which will reduce sewage odors.

Lagoon decommissioning timeline: