Aberdeen Regional Airport Hoping Wind Unit Answer to Odor

Progress was made Monday in the search for a solution to the problem of a stinky Aberdeen Regional Airport holding pond.

The city commission granted permission for the airport to rent a windmill unit to help aerate the water in the holding pond.

An alcohol-based de-icing agent used by Mesaba Airlines to keep planes ice-free in the winter has been blamed for causing the stench that has raised concerns from airport neighbors and elicited complaints from passersby on U.S. Highway 12.

Transportation Director Dave Osborn called the search for a solution a "drawn out process."

After some research and contacting other cities in surrounding states that have purchased the stainless steel windmill units, Osborn recommended the city enter into a rent-to-own contract to see how the unit works.

Osborn said that all of the cities he's spoken to said they've used their units year-round and had very few maintenance problems.

The town of Platte, south of Chamberlain on the Missouri River, has had three of the units for seven years, and needed to perform minimal maintenance on them, Osborn told the commission.

At $250 a month, Osborn said he has money in the airport's rental budget to cover the unit.

If it works out, those payments will be counted toward the purchase price of $6,975.

The contract with SARC Technologies Group should be available for review by City Attorney Mark Anderson this week, Osborn said.

Commissioner Bill McQuillen asked how the city would know if the unit was working.

Besides using one's nose, Osborn said chemical tests could be done to see if the water in the pond is getting the oxygen it needs to keep the stink at bay.

Glycol, the de-icer, robs the water of oxygen, and releases a methane by-product, and that's what people smell, Osborn said.

Once placed in the pond, the windmill unit will use wind power to circulate deoxygenated water from the base of the pond to the surface to collect fresh oxygen.