Amid many complaints about the sewer smell that was wafting over the interstate and through the entrance into Douglas, Wyo., for the past few weeks, the wastewater lagoon at a local campground is back to normal operations and the smell is gone for now, the Douglas Budget reported.

Spring turnover for the lagoon, similar to lake and river bottom turnover, was the cause of the smell, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) franchisees Dirk and Jodi Neverve explained. The sudden increase in high weather temperatures this early in the spring season, in combination with the rapid ice melt on the top of the lagoon, raised the temperature of the wastewater at an increasingly fast rate. This is what caused the turnover process to begin early, to happen hard and fast, and affects how the process decomposes, they said.

Solid waste and bacteria accumulate and sit at the bottom of the lagoon during the winter months. How much accumulation depends on how much business the campground has over the winter months, Dirk explained. As the waste and bacteria sits, it becomes less oxygenated than what is on the top of the lagoon, causing gases to build up and become trapped on the bottom.

It’s usually in late spring when the water temperature begins to change, and it happens at a much slower rate, so the gases can begin to rise to the surface. During a turnover process that happens quickly, as what just happened with the KOA lagoon, the gases are released into the air all at once, Dirk explained.

The Douglas KOA Journey runs aerators on a continual basis to help with the lagoon turnover and often there is less odor when there is a lot of moisture, but in cases when the temperature rises too quickly and sticks around for a while, once turnover begins the only choice is to wait it out until the process is complete, Dirk said, adding that the only thing that can slow the process down is a rapid decrease in temperature.

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