SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Some utility rates in Sioux Falls could be increasing over the next four years, including the treatment of wastewater.
With that future increase, we take you on a tour of where your money is going and how the City of Sioux Falls Water Reclamation Plant works.
The current water reclamation plant was completed in 1984. It treats about 18 million gallons of water and 44,000 pounds of pollution everyday.
Plant operations manager, Mark Hierholzer, says over 900 miles of pipes underneath Sioux Falls collect all the wastewater, bringing it to the plant on the northeast side of the city for the first step.
“[The wastewater goes] through these pieces of equipment that we call bar screens, and we start removing all the material we don’t want in the treatment process,” Hierholzer said.
Things like rocks, sticks or rags. The water is then brought into big tanks where any heavy solids settle to the bottom. About 50% of the pollution is removed during this stage.
In the next step, the water is pumped into aeration basins where they use microorganisms to get rid of pollution.
“We keep them in here, and you see all the bubbles behind me, we’re aerating them, but what we want to do is we want to allow these bugs to eat all the pollution. And then basically we’ll take these bugs out of the wastewater before we release the wastewater into the Big Sioux River,” Hierholzer said.
That happens in the final clarifiers. Hierholzer says about 90 percent of the pollution has been removed at this point, and the remaining 10 percent goes through filters and is disinfected.
All the wastewater in Sioux Falls goes through four stages before one last aeration process and being discharged back into the Big Sioux River.
Now, back to that rate increase — for wastewater treatment, the average homeowner, at 4,600 gallons monthly consumption in Sioux Falls, would see a 6% increase in 2024, which totals about $27 more for the whole year. Again, that’s for the average homeowner.
“All the money and the revenue collected through rates pay for the operation, the maintenance, the equipment that’s really necessary to do their day-to-day work and of course the capital program, which includes the maintenance of the system, the maintenance of the treatment facility and then expansion of those facilities to support growth and development,” City of Sioux Falls utility administrator Ryan Johnson said.
You can see a full tour of the water reclamation plant in the video player below:
You can see more information on the rate increases on the city’s website.