Rapid City Regional Airport officials are arranging for the construction of a stormwater diversion ditch to keep the complex's septic lagoon from overflowing.

State environmental regulators are requiring the airport to dig the ditch before they issue a permit to dispose of the lagoon's contents by spreading them on-site, officials said. The airport is pursing the permit as it waits for clearance to build a new wastewater management system.

The airport's board of directors today will consider authorizing Executive Director Patrick Dame to enter into an agreement with the lowest quoted contractor that can be found for the stormwater project. Dame said Monday that he expects to receive quotes for the project over the next several weeks. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has directed the airport to complete the project before the end of the year.

Other work that the DENR is requiring for the permit includes new signage and fencing, the digging out of the island in the middle of the lagoon and the improvement of the service road that extends to the lagoon. Final costs for the project have not yet been determined.

Dame has authority to contract for projects that cost under $50,000 and said in a board memo that the ditch will "come within that limit." He told the Rapid City Journal on Monday that he is requesting further authorization from the board so that he can more quickly approve a contract in the event that it is quoted for more than that amount.

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The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to formally approve the stormwater project within 30 days, according to Dame. The airport's wastewater permit, meanwhile, was submitted on Aug. 14 and is awaiting final approval, according to the DENR.

Dame reiterated Monday that permission to spread wastewater from the lagoon on airport property is being sought as a temporary solution to a larger problem. Officials have said that the open-air lagoon is aging and that it nearly overflowed in recent months as a result of heavy rain.

Officials have pointed to the severe risk of overflow as the cause for their decision to dump approximately 74,000 gallons of the lagoon's contents on airport property last month. They did so without permission from the DENR, something they say was the result of a miscommunication between the department and themselves.

News of the stormwater project comes as the airport continues to conduct an environmental assessment of the lagoon. The DENR is requiring that the assessment be completed before the lagoon can be replaced.

Options to replace the lagoon range from the construction of a new and improved lagoon to the construction of a municipal sewer line extension, according to an airport facilities study from 2017.

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— Contact Matthew Guerry at matthew.guerry@rapidcityjournal.com

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