John's Jobs: Waste Water Engineer - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

John's Jobs: Waste Water Engineer

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It's a job that definitely has an odor, it's not for anyone who's a germaphobe and deals with something we see everyday, just on a much larger scale.

The City of Moorhead Water Treatment Facility collects, treats and pumps the waste water for Moorhead, Dilworth and the town of Oakport. About 4.5 million gallons of waste water every single day moves throughout the plant.

City engineers not only have to manage that waste water but clean, maintain and operate 180 miles of pipes and 49 lift stations throughout the city. Maria Amundson, lead facility operator, says the biggest thing they do is keep the microorganisms or "bugs" that eat the waste happy.

"We want to keep the microorganisms happy so we want to make sure there's an abundance of microorganisms because that's what degrades the organics."

Darsey Thoen, bio solids manager at the plant, notes that as the waste continues through the plant they're able to stir the waste and create a methane gas. "We take that methane we burn it in our boilers we heat those tanks and the plant, with the methane that we generate from the process."

However it's not just at the plant where work is done, but on the way to the plant where trouble can also arise.

Terry Supler, maintenance mechanic with the water waste division, works to maintain some of that 180 miles of pipe. Seeing all to often stuff that shouldn't be flushed down the toilets, clogging up city pipes.

"Waste is plugging up the impeller so the impeller is not pumping, we're not putting any water out. It took 14 hours to pump yesterday what should have took about 2 hours because too much stuff got up in there." That "stuff" would be a build up of rags that got flushed down a toilet somewhere inside the system.

Once a toilet is flushed it takes the water several hours to reach the plant, once at the plant it's treated and discharged back into the Red River in just about 24 hours. The current water treatment plant has been in service since 1983.

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