Cape’s Sewage Treatment Plant

I’ve been seeing stories pop up that Cape Girardeau residents are going to vote on whether or not to build a new waste water treatment plant by 2014. You can read more about it on the city’s website. I don’t have a dog in this hunt, so I’m not going to weigh in.

I flew over the treatment plant last fall. It looked smaller than I remembered it.

Front page story with byline

I did a front page Missourian story on Aug. 15, 1967, back in the day when we called it a “sewage treatment plant.” Not only did it run on 1A, but it ran with a byline, something that didn’t happen often.

Overall, it wasn’t badly written. The lead is a little long – “Cape Girardeau’s sewage treatment plant’s most important function is anti-pollution, but a byproduct of its operations is proving to be a substantial help to area farmers who literally reap the benefits when they harvest their crops.”

Treated sewage made excellent fertilizer

“After the raw sewage – which once had a direct line to the Mississippi River – is detoured, detained, treated and dried, the solid wastes make excellent fertilizer, farmers say.”

I loved stats and obscure factoids: “…about 35,000 pounds of sludge rolls off the plant’s 12-foot-wide vacuum coilfilter every other day, Tom Sides, supervisor, pointed out; this amounts to about 200 tons a month or about 7,200 tons in the three years the plant has been in operation.”

You don’t know how hard it is to write a story like this without slipping in some bad puns. John Blue was the only guy I ever worked for who would have given me this assignment without making some comment about it being a “[deleted]” story.

Some odor after rains

I quoted farmers Ervin Hobbs, Fred Theile and Mrs. Denver Perkins. All said their yields had increased. Mr. Thiele reported “there is some odor – particularly after it rains – but there aren’t any other farmers too close to here and it doesn’t bother anyone.”

Dr. S.B. Beecher of the State Public Health office in Poplar Bluff said that the state has never objected to the use of solid treated waste. Some St. Louis nurseries even used the liquid sewage, he said.

Came out  as felt-like material

Cape County Health Officer Marvin Campbell was less sold. “I don’t know how adequate the treatment is, I don’t know whether all the pathogenic organisms are being killed; I don’t know the strength of the chemicals being used, and I don’t know if any tests are being made to see if the organisms are being killed.”

Raw sewage flowed into the plant at the rate of 2,500 to 3,500 gallons a minute. By the time it got through the complex system of pumps, still wells and filters, it came out as clear water which was “almost drinkable” or as a slightly-damp, felt-like material. The latter is what the farmers used.

Two employees in addition to Mr. Sides work at the plant: Elmer J. Perry, operator, and Cecil Bierschwal, truck driver.



Fort D and May Greene School

The defensive earthworks around Fort D show up clearly in these aerial photos shot Nov. 6. 2010. That’s the old May Greene School at the top right.

Looks like someone is cleaning up the old junkyard east of Giboney St. on the left.

May Greene – Fort D Neighborhood

This frame, with May Greene on the left and Giboney St. running from left to right across the bottom, shows a little of the neighborhood.

Fort D roof missing

The roof on the old fort is missing, as this photo shows.

Recent stories on May Greene and Fort D

I’ve written about both buildings in the past.

1929 Railroad Bridge

Wife Lila’s niece, Laurie Everett, wanted to go a photo expedition. The first couple of locations didn’t pan out, so we headed to South Cape (as The Missourian used to refer to it euphemistically) to see if anything was still left from the 60s.

We drove down a gravel road until it became a couple ruts that ended at Cape LaCroix Creek, just upstream from where it dumps into the Mississippi River. On our left was a railroad trestle dated 1929.

Cape LaCroix Creek looking downstream

If we were standing on the other bank or on the bridge, we could probably see the river around that last bend. There is another bridge downstream that I didn’t notice until I looked closely at the aerial photo at the bottom of the page.

View upstream toward Sprigg St.

The view upstream looking at Sprigg St. is a much more attractive creek than it was in the days when it carried offal and other unspeakable things from packing plants located on its banks.

Long ago, that bridge on Sprigg would have been a toll bridge leading to Tollgate Hill that I wrote about earlier.

Aerial view of Cape LaCroix Creek and Mississippi River

Here is a photo of the area taken last weekend. Sprigg St. is at the bottom of the picture. The 1929 railroad bridge is above Sprigg. The third bridge is another railroad bridge. The Blue Hole Garden would have been where the green trailer is at the bottom right of the aerial photo.