Dougherty works to address sewer system issues

The city sign in Dougherty. CAITLIN WARE|THE PIONEER ENTERPRISE

Since 2010, the City of Dougherty has been facing a ticking clock after being handed a mandate by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stating that the town of roughly 52 residents must comply with rural community sewer standards.

As it stands, Dougherty is classified as an “unsewered community,” which according to the DNR refers to a community that possesses “outdated or poorly functioning septic tanks” that allow untreated wastewater into waterways in Iowa. Before state wastewater standards went into effect in the 1960s, raw sewage was allowed to flow directly into a stream without treatment. But modernized regulations require that every community have a wastewater treatment system that correctly handles sewage without pollution as a result. And for Dougherty specifically, the DNR mandate for the town means that an entire overhaul of its current sewer system is needed, a more than $1 million project to bring the city up to today’s requirements, according to city officials.

Currently, Dougherty households use a mix of newer, approved septic systems and old “tank and discharge to drain tile systems,” according to Project Engineer for SEH Tom Madden, who has been contracted to work with the city to address the sewer system challenges.

DNR Project Manager Emy Liu said that back in May 2010, staff from a DNR field office determined that Dougherty had improperly treated wastewater that was being discharged to the city tile lines, which ultimately discharged to the surface water of the state. So as a result, the DNR issued Dougherty a notice of violation on May 20, 2010.

Read the full article in the September 7 edition of the papers.