Willmar residents, especially those living in the southeast part of the city, are looking forward to the end of the old wastewater treatment plant along 19th Avenue Southeast.
When the old wastewater treatment plant was built, it was on the edge of the city. It is now surrounded by residential or business development.
The next major step in the startup of the new wastewater treatment plant west of Willmar is about to occur -- the colonization of the new plant with microbes from the old plant.
This will require in early August the pumping of sludge and effluent containing the valuable microbes through an interceptor line to the new facility. Once this slurry reaches the new plant, it will be allowed to settle out and multiply in the oxidation ditches for four to six weeks.
An unfortunate part of this transfer is that it may cause some odor release at the old plant, due to a change in the biochemical balance at the old plant.
No one -- city officials, consultants or residents -- want to see a return of sewer odors to southeast Willmar. It was never a pleasant experience when the bad odor rose from the plant.
However, this time everyone knows that this is a short-term problem as the city starts up the new wastewater treatment plant, which is expected to be operational by this fall.
In fact, the contract for the decommissioning of the old plant is scheduled to be awarded in early August.
With the new plant scheduled to be operational by this fall, Willmar residents will likely smell the last of those old wastewater treatment plant scents.
The best smell will be the bad one that no longer floats across southeast Willmar.