The city’s watershed protection plan — approval of which is required before the city is granted a permit for the plant — was approved last week after being first sent to EPD last September. Though the city’s initial submission was found lacking in several areas it was returned in April and official approval came May 2.
According to Watershed Protection Supervisor Jameson Green, in the future the city will be required to make annual reports each June with any updates or changes made to the plant.
Approval of the watershed protection plan led to EPD officials taking a tour of the plant last Thursday to ensure it was meeting all specifications. A few minor issues were found, but the only major requirements the city must complete shortly after the plant goes operational is adding a small wall to one component of the plant to help contain any possible spills and a small pan must be added to another apparatus.
“Most of it was minor stuff like tightening up a handrail here or there,” City Manager Larry Wood said. “There were two larger improvements we must make, but we don’t have to have those done before the plant begins processing wastewater. They certainly don’t want us dragging our feet and I’d like to have them done, but I’m not sure we can get the wall fabricated in time.”
During the tour, the plant had discharged water from the old plant running through it and no major issues were found to delay the plant’s opening any further. However, before that opening can take place, a letter must be sent by the city’s engineering contractor to EPD certifying that all systems have been certified ready to operate by all the parts manufacturers, as well as a letter by the city to EPD that they are ready to operate the plant. It is hoped that the letters will be sent this week and EPD will grant permission to turn the plant on next week.
“We may push the opening to June 1, but if we’re ready to go next week (Plant Manager) Carl (Jones) may go ahead and say, ‘Let’s crank it up,’” Wood said. “This time of the year, our old plant becomes more difficult to manager and we’d just like to get rid of the old plant as soon as we can.”
Once the new plant is running smoothly, the old plant must be dismantled. Some of the parts, such as the belt press, will be transferred to the new plant as a back-up system. The plant should be demolished by middle to later summer.
In the future, the city has permission to increase the size of the North Wastewater Treatment Plant in Douglas County from a capacity of 500,000 gallons per day to 700,000 gallons per day. Combining that total to the eventual 3.2 million gallons per day at the new West Wastewater Treatment Plant the city should be able to triple the number of customers it can serve before needing to find additional capacity. With the expanded capacity, the city would be able to treat slightly less than 4 million gallons per day compared to about 1.1 million gallons per day being treated now.
An official grand opening for the new plant will be held in a few months after officials are sure the plant is operating without problems.