Rapid City Airport Wastewater Construction Project Begins

April 13, 2022

Apr. 13—Construction has started on Rapid City Regional Airport's new sanitary sewer collection system that will eventually replace the outdated lagoon system that caused environmental concerns in the past.

"We're starting to see some of these things come to fruition as we're able. Right now they're digging along Airport Road," Airport Executive Director Patrick Dame said Tuesday.

The estimated $2.5 million project will build a new gravity sewer line from the airport's main collection system to carry wastewater to the city's Water Reclamation Facility. It includes 4,820 feet of eight-inch piping that will travel along Airport Road to a new lift station.

Dame said the new pipe has been installed all the way to the lagoon area and the construction team has a bit more to install along Airport Road.

"That's already probably right around a quarter mile left to dig along there and then they will start digging in the opposite direction to the treatment plant," he said.

A new lift station will be installed near the intersection of Airport Road and State Highway 79. The lift station will then send the wastewater through another 12,200 feet of four-inch pipe west along the highway, where it would connect to the city's existing sewer infrastructure.

"What might delay some of this is the actual construction of the lift station, which could take upwards of a year," Dame said.

The 1960s-era lagoon is too small to serve the airport during the peak travel season and does not have the capacity to serve in the future.

During the summer of 2019, the airport had to spread approximately 74,100 gallons of sewage on the northern end of the property. That emergency discharge was done without proper permitting from the then-named South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Although the state agency later found that no contamination was caused by the emergency discharge, it brought the lagoon's age and limitations to light and airport administration began studying how to fix the capacity issue in the long term.

A 2020 Environmental Assessment indicated connecting the airport's collection system with the city's wastewater network was the preferred option over constructing a new aerated lagoon.

During the summer peak travel season, the airport had to pay a company thousands of dollars to pump out the lagoon because of capacity issues again.

Contact Nathan Thompson at [email protected].


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