David Gartner of PeopleService, Inc., paid a visit to Fountain's city council last Thursday evening to share an update on the operation of the city's wastewater treatment plant. The company has been in charge of its operation but cannot figure out how to amend a nitrate and nitrite level compliance problem.

"We've done 27 extra tests throughout the plant, and we're still chasing the problem down," Gartner reported. "This is one of the hardest plants our company has to operate."

He cited that while the company has come up with solutions to lower the nitrate and nitrite levels in water that would be discharged onto a drain field, they are not suitable to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) liking and therefore cannot be implemented, even if they are more reasonable than other solutions.

"What we're doing should work, but I've talked to the people with Minnesota Rural Water for an hour and come up with nothing. I've talked with other professors in the wastewater industry, and they don't know what to do," Gartner continued. "It's an anaerobic system that's creating the nitrogen, and part of the problem is that the bacteria bugs like to eat all day, but the people in town go to work, so the bugs only get a meal in the morning and at night when people come home again."

Council members and city clerk Ronda Flattum inquired as to whether a wastewater treatment plant engineer might be able to offer answers that a regular engineer might not.

Gartner replied, "There are a lot of problems that could be connected, and an engineer who understands them might help. Our hands are tied. To be honest, I think there are some design flaws in this plant, but we have what we have, and we've got to keep it going."

Councilors agreed to have Flattum contact the city engineer and also contact a wastewater treatment engineer to take a look at the issues.

Asphalt for alleys

In another matter, councilors reviewed quotes for asphalt to be laid in the alley behind the businesses on the west side of town. It was noted the bids ranged from an estimated $17,000 to $44,000, and not all of them included a depth of three inches of asphalt to be laid.

Councilor Chad Wangen expressed his doubt at the suggestion that two inches of asphalt would be sufficient to re-surface the alley since semis and delivery trucks often park or drive there.

The council chose to ask for new bids with the same measurements and asphalt depth in order to properly compare bids.

Councilor Bryan Ostby reported that he had not yet obtained bids for new concrete at the ballpark but would do so.

Clerk report

Flattum shared that she had attended a safety and loss prevention workshop in Rochester and found it to be informative, especially the sessions on data practices and city contracts.

She brought up that the city's stop and street signs may need to be replaced soon to comply with retro-reflectivity requirements by Jan. 1, 2014, as most of the signs in Fountain were replaced in 2002 and will soon be too old to be in compliance. She added that the city of Fountain would do well to join the MNWarn volunteer disaster assistance program, as volunteers who participate in the program would be available to help citizens in case of natural disasters.

Wangen pointed out that Fountain's fire department is already a member of MNWarn.

Police report

Lastly, Fountain Police Chief Tom Mosher spoke about the events of the past month, noting that he'd sent junk ordinance violation letters to citizens and investigated a theft by check incident.

He also said the Fillmore County active shooter training was held in Fountain. The class was originally scheduled to take place in Wykoff but couldn't be held there due to facility shortages.

"This is one incident we respond to totally differently," he said, "because most often, if there's a burglary, we'll gather as many officers around as we can and wait, but if I'm the first officer on the scene where there's an active shooter, I go into the building and start looking for them right away...I don't wait."

He outlined that there are certain difficulties involved with completing the training but that it was "excellent."

Other business

In other business, the council handled the following issues.

• The council voted to donate $1,000 to Fountain Trail Days and approved a Trail Days liquor license.

• Wintergreen Landscaping of Chatfield was hired to spray 12 1/2 acres of city property for broadleaf at a cost of $544.

• The council established that the city is in compliance with state pay equity requirements and will grant 5 percent cost of living raises across the board instead of using a pay scale to compensate employees for their work.