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Sewer problem creates urgent need for water expansion project

Problems with the airport’s drain field are creating a sense of urgency on the part of airport officials regarding the need for a new sewage and water system.

Airport Manager Jeff Wig reported Tuesday at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission meeting that an issue with a plugged filter box revealed a crack in the drain field’s main line.

Wig said the location of the crack made it a fairly simple fix for contractors already working on the plugged filter, but the situation could have been much worse.

“We were very concerned there was going to be a crack in a really inaccessible place — like under the parking lot pavement,” Wig said. “They were able to expand the hole (that was already dug) and repair it.”

Wig said the main line, installed approximately a decade ago, pumps between 1,500-2,000 gallons of water daily into the drain field located south of the airport’s long-term parking lot.

Wig said he hopes the system can be kept up and running until a more permanent solution replaces it.

“Our hope is that the modifications we’re doing to this ... will allow us to get through the year or year and a half until a city solution is in place.” Wig said, adding that he doesn’t want to speak for the city of Brainerd’s time line. “Our hope is that that could be constructed in 2015.”

A more permanent solution hinges on the outcome of the $850 million bonding proposal currently under review by the Minnesota legislature. The bond would fund construction projects across the state — including a sewer and water expansion from the city of Brainerd to the Brained airport.

“If the bonding bill doesn’t pass we would have to come up with a more permanent solution,” Wig said. Wig said the airport required another emergency repair project last month when the pilot-controlled lighting on the airport’s runway suddenly failed when the switch box stopped responding to the pilots’ radio access. Wig said attempts were made to fix the switch box.

“At the end of the day they said we just had to replace it,” he said.

A MnDOT grant covered the $20,000 needed to pay for the new switch box — something Wig said they airport was extremely grateful for. “That would taken a huge chunk of our operating budget,” he said.

Approved monthly agenda and payment of bills. Commissioner Jeff Czeczok voted no in the approval of bill payment, but declined to give a reason why.

Commended action of airport rescue and firefighter maintenance employee Jim Wulf for reaching out to the Brainerd Fire Department when the springs on garage door on the airport’s fire truck bay broke, trapping the truck inside.

Wulf asked the fire department to stand by for an incoming Delta flight. “Rest assured we are putting money into fixing (the door),” Wig said.

SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at or 855-5879.