Airmaster Aerator was praised this week in an article in the News Star newspaper in West Monroe, Louisiana.
The feature began: Hang a right at the fork and go over the levee on East Martin Street in West Monroe, and what you find might surprise you. A large building sits on a rise, then the gravel drive loops around two giant ponds with outbuildings and aerators.
Egrets dot the edges, and a family of ducks swims by. With a heat index over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the breeze off the water is cool and inviting. You might be tempted to take a dip.
Do not do that -- under any circumstances.
The ponds smell deceptively, well, normal. But that's raw sewage.
Since April 30, 2012, the West Monroe Sparta Reuse Facility has been helping to replenish the Sparta Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 17 parishes in Louisiana. It spans south Arkansas and extends into parts of Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Bienville, Jackson and Winn parishes.
The facility takes wastewater from West Monroe and the West Ouachita No. 5 Sewer District and cleans it for industrial use.
Daily, West Monroe sends 5 million gallons to the Graphic Packaging International plant.
The facility is built to be able to process up to 12 million gallons a day, but the city doesn't have enough access to wastewater to meet that demand.
The paper mill still uses 5 million gallons from the Sparta and 10 million gallons a day from the Ouachita River, but sending the treated product to Graphic Packaging helps to reduce strain on the area's underground water source.
In total, the facility has won four international awards, five national ones and seven at the state level.
Most recently, the Louisiana Rural Water Association gave it the Energy Conservation System of the Year (North) Award because in addition to treating water in an ecologically sustainable way, it's the largest municipally owned solar farm in Louisiana.
Two 50-acre retention ponds hold all the wastewater the city can access. The ponds, Emory said, have been there since the 1950s. The city previously treated wastewater and discharged it to the river before the Reuse Facility was created.
The ponds don't smell like a cesspit. Aerators keeps the water churning and help to reduce algae blooms.
Editor's note: You can read the entire feature here.