The Talkeetna sewer lagoon will undergo additional maintenance before discharging treated water into the Talkeetna River.
According to Mat-Su Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan, the borough has begun mechanical aeration of the lagoon, and replanting work is planned on the artificial wetlands before treated sewage is released.
For the last two summers, the Talkeetna lagoon has violated it’s state permit multiple times for a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The system is designed to use natural processes, including ultraviolet light, artificial wetlands, and biological breakdown to treat sewage to safe levels. A combination of factors, including a bypass on sewage coming into the system, grease on the surface of the lagoon, and damage to the wetlands following a flood in 2006 have contributed to the treatment system’s problems.
Late last year, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation contacted the borough regarding the violations. Multiple meetings have been held, but a final agreement between the borough and the state has not been reached.
Last month, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved a loan of $214,000 for the lagoon. Additionally, he says the money could be used as matching funds for a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On Tuesday afternoon, Dolan learned that the USDA has approved a grant for the lagoon, and he says an offer letter should be coming soon. Whether the grant is accepted and whether the loan funds are used is contingent on whether the lagoon can be brought back into compliance through current maintenance plans. At that point, Dolan says options include artificial ultraviolet light.