Ripley and Ravenswood are trying to get rid of their sewer lagoon systems. Why?

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Ripley and Ravenswood use lagoons for their sewer treatment.

Ripley and Ravenswood's sewer systems are getting multi-million-dollar facelifts soon. Here's a look at how the projects are going. 

Ripley wastewater 

The City of Ripley has been working to build a new sewer treatment plant for the last decade. Matthew Anderson, the city's project manager, said that he hopes the bid for the project will go out by the end of 2021. 

Ripley operates Evans' sewer system as well — Ripley has 22 acres of sewer lagoons and Evans has 4.5. The project will remove the lagoons and install a sequencing batch reactor activated sludge treatment facility in Ripley to treat both municipalities' wastewater. 

Ripley's sewer lagoons are located at the end of Straight Street.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this reactor is a fill-and-draw sludge system where "wastewater is added to a single “batch” reactor, treated to remove undesirable components, and then discharged."

Once the $23 million project begins, it will take about two years to complete. Currently, $5 million of the project is being funded by grants. Anderson said the project is important for the city because it will allow for more economic opportunities. 

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"In order for the City of Ripley and Evans area to be able to grow, we must have more capacity for treatment," Anderson said in an email to Jackson Newspapers. "By building a new plant, and allowing for growth, we will be more prepared to add new businesses and residential areas in the future."

Ravenswood wastewater

The City of Ravenswood also has lagoons for its wastewater system. Project manager Fred Hypes with Dunn Engineering said the new sewer treatment plant will be about a mile down the road from its current location where the town's previous wastewater facility was. 

The lagoons take up about 15 acres and the plant will take up only two acres. 

Ravenswood's sewer lagoon are located on Washington Street.

The city's sequencing batch reactor will cost between $15 and $20 million and will allow Ravenswood to move forward with its sports complex, which will live where the lagoons currently reside. 

Hypes said it's unclear when the bids for the project will go out, but in the meantime, the city is applying for grants with the help of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council. Hypes estimates that it'll take two years for the facility to be up and running once construction begins. 

How do the lagoons work?

The lagoons, also known as effluent ponds, break down germs with the help of wind and the sun, according to Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group. The wind provides oxygen to the water while the sun gives warmth and light, which helps grow bacteria and algae. 

The algae and bacteria work together to break down the sewage. 

Ditching the lagoons and opting for mechanical facilities will cut down on land use and eliminate some unwelcoming smells emitted from the lagoons. 

Each lagoon acts like a pond or lake depending on the size, Hypes said. Just like with these bodies of water, the water temperatures change in the lagoons. When the warmer layer of water on the top of the lagoon cools, it sinks. The cool water at the bottom of the lagoon is then displaced, which creates the foul smell associated with the lagoons. 

"The nature of the beast is that at times, they can be smelly," Hypes said. "It's a natural process and there's no amount of operation that can make that change."

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— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.