Fowler Utility Board met on May 6 to review sewer waste discharge options. The town's sewage ponds haven't been cleaned out in 20 years and state regulations make discharge activities a difficult task for Fowler to perform while remaining in compliance, it was noted during the meeting.

Because the state oversees sewage discharge activities, Fowler must be able to comply with those regulations in order to discharge its sewage, according to Town Administrator Kelly Lotrich.

"If we discharge even one month out of the year, we have to follow all those regulations," Lotrich said. "Most years, we probably could do evaporative. But what if that one year it's a really wet year and we have to discharge one month? Then we get hit with all kinds of compliance. ..."

The sewage water currently in the ponds is high in selenium. Levels of selenium, tin and ammonia, as well as BODs, or biochemical oxygen demand - a gauge of the amount of oxygen required by microorganisms to break down organic materials - are regulated by the state.

The town's sewage infrastructure isn't currently suited for regulation-compliant discharge, so the utility board discussed options.

One option for the town is to acquire a dredge machine. But that presents another problem: disposing of the dredged sludge.

Another option would be to acquire bacteria capable of breaking down the sludge in the pool. A Fowler water engineer in attendance at the meeting suggested the sludge in a given pond could be at least two feet deep in the middle, but the bacteria could digest only approximately six inches per year, which is more than the amount of sewage being piped into the ponds.

Utility Board member Brent Denney suggested the board make a list of all options and then eliminate the nonviable solutions.

"The advantage that we have with them looking at our discharge permit is we can restart the design phase once we get an answer," said Mayor Nathan Shultz. "We can get another bite at the apple for picking our plant."

The next meeting of the Utility Board is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 3, and it is open to the public.

cburney@ljtdmail.com