Air near the Aberdeen Regional Airport still stinks, but the smell could dissipate by week's end. That's what Dave Osborn, city transportation director, told Aberdeen city commissioners Monday afternoon during a commission work session at city hall.
For a month or so, stagnant water in a lagoon on airport property has been emitting an unpleasant odor. In short, the smell is caused because the water in the holding pond does not contain enough oxygen. Treatments to increase the oxygen level haven't yet helped. But, Osborn said, it looks like the stench will soon subside. Water with more oxygen in it from a second airport lagoon was pumped to the primary pond and is helping the problem, he said.
The main lagoon - the one that, at times, can greet passengers getting off of planes with an awful odor - is located just east of the main entrance to the airport parking lot.
Osborn said that pond has been treated six times this spring. Last year, after three treatments to increase oxygen levels, the smell subsided.
In addition to water, the lagoon gets runoff from the airstrip that includes an environmentally safe chemical used to keep planes ice-free in the winter. That alcohol-based product adds to the smell, Osborn said.
Airport officials are now looking for a long-term solution to the problem. Osborn said that he will probably ask for roughly $10,000 next week to purchase a pond mill. Basically, the unit would work like a windmill. Wind would power it, turning a mill that would spin an underwater turbine. The process would aerate water much quicker, Osborn said.
Osborn said that, in future years, water with the deicing agent may also be sent to a different lagoon.
Should a pond mill be bought, it would probably be delivered this summer, Osborn said. No money was budgeted for the purchase, which is why he'll probably submit a formal request to city officials next week.
Osborn also updated commissioners on the airport's grant for roughly $500,000 in federal money to attract jet service to Aberdeen Regional. The application was just sent in and Aberdeen will find out whether it will receive the money in July or August.
If procured, the money would be used to help cover the costs of upgrading at least one Northwest/Mesaba flight per day into and out of Aberdeen to regional jet service. The city is now served by prop planes.
Most likely, one of the final flights into Aberdeen would be a jet that would spend the night, then be the first flight out of town come morning.
Northwest Airlines is the only commercial airline serving Aberdeen. It does so through a partnership with Mesaba Airlines. Both are Twin Cities based.
Right now, 34 flights come into and leave Aberdeen each week. Osborn said that he has heard talk that with or without jet service, Northwest and Mesaba may lower that number.