The North Bend Eagle


EPA visits North Bend sewer plant

by Nathan Arneal
Published 5/11/22

Mike Adair of PeopleService, the company contracted to run North Bend’s water and sewer systems, reviewed the results of a recent visit to North Bend by representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency with the city council at its May 3 meeting.

The EPA found several violations at the North Bend sewer plant, though some of them meet Nebraska state standards but not those of the EPA.

“Don’t ask me how that happens because you’re never supposed to be able to supersede the EPA,” Adair said.

Adair said the most expensive part of the report was the repairs needed to the ultraviolet light system that helps disinfect the wastewater.

City clerk Theresa Busse said the city got a quote of $80,000 on a replacement UV system three years ago. Adair said he could look at some other bids or see what the cost of repairing the current system would be compared to replacing it.

The sewer plant, which was built 55 years ago, should be run at about 60% of capacity, Adair said, and North Bend’s had been runner over capacity for years.

The sewer treatment plant is rated to operate at a maximum 195,000 gallons a minute, Adair said, and it normally runs more than 200,000 gallons per minute. He said increasing the speed the wastewater moves through the systems reduces its effectiveness without proper time for aeration or settling.

Adair suggested doing a study to see what can be done to increase the plant’s capacity.
Adair said he wants to see his PeopleService personnel improve its process control, how it operates the plant and keeps things maintained and cleaned and documents what happens at the plant.

The EPA report is just the findings from the visit, Adair said. In the near future, the EPA will come back with instructions on what North Bend needs to do at its sewer plant.

“We don’t know what that is yet,” Adair said, “but I believe in being proactive and showing what we’re doing so that it looks better, that we’re doing this or that because we are trying to make it better.”

Adair added that the water plant looks “phenomenal.”

In other council business:

• The council raised rental rates for the city auditorium from $300 to $500 and increased the deposit from $100 to $500. A few out-of-town groups have rented the auditorium lately and left several hours of clean up and trash removal for city staff. In one case, a toilet tank was broken off.

“When our guys have to spend four or five hours picking up garbage and cleaning up, we need to up (the rent),” councilman Alex Legge said.

Councilman Ken Streff suggested adding something to the contract that tells the renters that they could be billed for damages above and beyond the deposit. This suggested was added to the motion.

Anyone who already has the auditorium reserved will still be charged the old rate they had agreed to.

• The council has been discussing a proposed city ordinance to allow chickens to be kept within the city limits. Currently farm animals and fowl are banned.

Legge spoke in opposition to the proposal, concerned about people abusing the ordinance beyond its intent and who is going to enforce the ordinance.

A vote to move forward with writing and passing an ordinance allowing chickens – which would still require three readings before being passed – was taken.

Councilmen Dan Minarick and Ken Streff voted in favor. Legge voted against. With councilman Bart Bosco absent, mayor Rod Scott voted no, leaving a 2-2 tie. The topic will be revisited when Bosco is present.


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