The Roundup -

City of Sidney Gives Tour of New Waste Water Facility


September 19, 2018 | View PDF

Heated air is bubbled through the phase 2 treatment cells to keep the bacteria healthy. (Photos by Jaymie Loobey)

Last Thursday, Public Works Director Jeff Hintz and Mayor Rick Norby took a few curious Sidney residents two miles east of town to view the sewage treatment lagoons. A few years ago the DEQ or Department of Environmental Quality visited Sidney and informed officials that Sidney needed to get its sewage system in compliance with federal regulations. At the time, the oil boom was in full swing and the population was well over the 6,000 persons it is today and was expected to grow even more.

The project consists of four separate phases. Phase two was completed back in February and they hope to be completely finished with all four within two years. The 1st phase started in 2015 building new infiltration cells for the treated water to go through its last round of filtration before reentering the environment. Phase 2 was building four 18 feet deep sewage treatment lagoons. These were lined with a PCV liner so water won't seep into the ground. The city just bid out for Phase 3. That is to build a new wastewater headworks building and lift station. Phase 4 will be the reclamation of the previous No. 1 pond to possibly be used for the treatment of stormwater sometime in the future. This phase will also include the installation of a center pivot for treated stormwater to be used to water fields rented out to a farmer instead of placing it in infiltration ponds as the last step. The city of Sidney doesn't currently treat its stormwater but Jeff predicts we will have to treat our stormwater sooner or later.

Public Works Director, Jeff Hintz, explained how the water was treated outside in the ponds as well as inside for UV treatment.

According to, Sidney was incorporated in 1911. Jeff said it did not get its first water treatment ponds until 1960. The ponds were unlined and sewage was brought to the ponds and left there to evaporate or be filtered by the ground. What is now factory lake used to be the city's sewage treatment pond. Now the sewage is treated a little differently. Three lift stations in town raise the sewage so that it can be gravity fed as before to the treatment plant. A fourth lift station at the plant raises it one more time before it enters the ponds. While spending the approximately forty-five days in each pond the water is subjected to naturally occurring bacteria that dissolve the solids. Occasionally enzymes are added to get rid of unknown substances the bacteria cannot handle but the bacteria is natural. The water is aerated by air heated from 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for the health of the bacteria. It also keeps the water from icing up in the dead of winter. The water then enters a building and goes through one of three sets of ultraviolet light treatments. This kills any remaining bacteria in the water before it is sent to the infiltration ponds to evaporate or seep into the ground. Jeff assured the people the water is safe when it comes through the system. He said, "The water that's actually going to the river by the time it gets to the river is actually cleaner than what's already in the river."

The city of Sidney borrowed money from the state revolving fund to pay for this. They do not have the final numbers yet but it will be about $20 million dollars to fully fund this project. The recent increase in rates for sewer many Sidney residents have noticed is to offset the cost. The new system is designed to support a population of 10,000 residents and is a state requirement. It is very expensive but much more cost effective than other systems because of its simplicity. Mayor Rick Norby said, "There is no money wasted by Sidney. We're pretty tight shoestrings here."


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