Park to Build Wastewater Treatment Lagoons

Photograph of existing wastewater treatment lagoons. Three new lagoons will be constructed on the ridge in the background.
Three wastewater treatment lagoons will be constructed on the ridge behind the existing lagoons.

NPS Photo

February 02, 2006

Tom Farrell, 605-745-4600

Construction will begin this summer in Wind Cave National Park on three wastewater treatment lagoons. The National Park Service Midwest Regional Director Ernie Quintana recently signed the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Final Environmental Assessment for the Project to Replace the Failing Wastewater Treatment Facility.

This project will replace the existing three sewage lagoons that would have overflowed three times in the 1990s without emergency operations to reduce levels. The draft environmental assessment’s preferred alternative called for the construction of a wastewater treatment line into Hot Springs, but city voters turned down the proposal in April of 2004.

“Three alternatives were studied in the draft environmental assessment. After examining the remaining two alternatives, building our own treatment plan or building new lagoons, we chose the construction of new lagoons because of lower operating costs,” said Park Facility Manager Steve Schrempp. “As part of this alternative, the existing lagoons will be removed and the site restored as much as possible.”

Plans calls for the construction of three larger lagoons at a site that will allow a greater amount of evaporation. The new ponds will be constructed just north and east of the existing lagoons, approximately 80 feet higher in elevation on a ridge bench where there is space for the larger lagoons, winds are stronger, and there is increased exposure to sunlight. The new ponds will allow, on average, evaporation to keep up with inflows. However, during wetter years, the increased capacity of the lagoons would allow full retention without out any discharges.

Construction should be completed by the end of the year. Copies of the FONSI are available at the Hot Springs, Custer, and Rapid City libraries, at the Wind Cave Visitor Center, or online at

Last updated: July 31, 2017

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