Waste Water Treatment Project

Briefly describe the project.

The Camp Courageous Waste Water Treatment Project will replace the present system that is antiquated and can no longer fulfill the growing needs and population of Camp Courageous, nor does it meet the new standards set by the DNR. Working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, this system will be constructed in two mirror phases, with the first phase scheduled to begin in the late fall of 2016.


Describe the community need/problem being addressed by this project.

The Monticello and Jones County area is fortunate to have the beautiful Maquoketa River winding through its city and countryside. Thousands of visitors travel the tranquil waters via canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes each year. The banks of the river serve as scenic locations for picnics, camping and sightseeing. Protecting these waters for generations to come is imperative to Jones County and the Monticello area.

Camp Courageous, a recreational and respite care facility serving over 7,000 individuals with special needs each year, is located near the banks of the Maquoketa River. In addition to the campers, over 50,000 visitors and volunteers spend time at camp annually. Established in 1972, it now owns and operates a waste water treatment plant consisting of septic tanks, a fixed activated sludge treatment unit (FAST), buried sand filter and disinfection via chlorinations and dechlorination. The treated effluent is discharged into an unnamed creek, which flows into the Maquoketa River. With the growth of the camp, the system has become antiquated and during peak periods is overloaded. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have determined the present system does not meet the new effluent requirements and must be replaced. Working with the DNR and a local engineering firm, due to cost, it has been determined the new waste-water facility would be constructed in 2 identical phases, mirroring each other, with phase one starting in late 2016. The new waste water treatment plant will ensure the discharge, that eventually makes it way to the Maquoketa River, does not impact the water quality.


Detailed description of the project.

As stated earlier, the Camp Courageous Waste Water Treatment System must meet the new effluent requirements set forth by the Iowa DNR. If not met, camp could be required to limit the number of individuals served at one time to avoid overloading the present system and to get the necessary permits. This would be detrimental to the program, taking a step backward as opposed to continued growth. The proposed treatment system would replace the FAST process and buried sand filter with a new process with greater capacity. Septic tanks will be used for the main treatment and storage of sludge, being removed periodically via a septic-truck. Next is an equalization basin to assist during peak hour flows. These two are for primary treatment. The secondary treatment phase begins with the discharge moving through a two-stage moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) for ammonia and other pollutant removal. A clarification tank will then reduce the solids, and finally the discharge will travel through a filter area. For the final disinfection phase the chlorine disinfection and dechlorination unit of the present system will be used, but updated with a new pump. The dual system will be designed as two identical systems mirroring each other. For peak periods both will be used, but during out-of-season, one will be turned down. The new system will be constructed at the same site as the present system. The final discharge will meet the new effluent requirements set forth by the Iowa DNR.


Positive impact and outcomes.

A waste-water treatment facility is not a very glamorous or appealing project. However, the necessity of the system means the difference between clean, pure water and polluted, contaminated H2O. The Maquoketa River is a treasure, with an ecosystem dependent on good stewards protecting it’s water. The river draws thousands of visitors each year to enjoy it’s beauty and tranquility. Polluted waters would not have the same lure.

Camp Courageous serves over 7,000 individuals with special needs each year. All age groups and types of disabilities are included. As well as serving campers, and over 50,000 visitors, volunteers, and staff, camp welcomes a host of community events in it’s buildings when not in use by campers. The newly completed Durgin Pavilion’s schedule is quickly filling up as a popular venue for weddings, family gatherings, graduation parties, business meetings, etc. The waste-water treatment system must be up to the task of handling the sewage usage of the ever increasing population at camp. Unfortunately, if the system is not updated, camp will not be permitted to continue to grow.

The success of this project will be determined by water samples, taken at regular intervals, that determine the treated waste water is safe to discharge into the unnamed creek flowing into the Maquoketa River. The system will continue to be monitored by the Iowa DNR and their permits for operation will also determine the success of the project.