It’s been a long time coming but Bayfield’s shiny new treatment plant is online and performing well, according to a report from Carole McWilliams writing for the Pine River Times. From the article:
Bayfield’s new sewage treatment plant has been up and running since mid-September. Town officials are delighted with the quality of effluent it is producing. They hosted a tour and grand opening of the plant on Sept. 24. The treatment system is called a “sequencing batch reactor. Outside in huge concrete tanks are the open lagoons. At any given time, one is still and one is aerating. Sludge settles out in the still pool and is screened into a third pool. From there the sludge is piped into the control building where water is pressed out of the sludge and it is compacted and moved into an outside container to be transported to a landfill. The sludge looks like black dirt, Public Works Director Ron Saba said. With the sludge removed, the treated effluent is passed through an ultraviolet light chamber to kill bacteria before it is discharged into the Pine River.
The effluent is cleaner than the river, Saba proclaimed.
The effluent is cleaner than the river, Saba proclaimed. He led a tour of the control building. The first room is a small lab for testing sewage and treated effluent samples to make sure the plant is operating properly and within state permit limits. The effluent has been testing virtually zero for ammonia and suspended solids, and 2 parts per million on bio-oxygen demand which indicates sewage residue, Saba said. “That’s amazing. The old plant, we would barely make our permit limit.” The first room also has a computer system that shows what the plant is doing in real time. After that is the large noisy room where the sewage comes into the plant. Non-sewage trash is screened out. Then a lift station sends the sewage out and up into the sequencing batch reactor tanks. “Bugs” (specialized bacteria) in the tanks do the treatment work. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe provided “seed” sludge to start the bug colony, Saba said. “We put 25,000 gallons in the first basin, and it started right up. Then the second basin.” The start-up was aided by perfect weather conditions, he added. Seasonal temperature changes won’t affect operation of this system as they did with the old lagoons. Saba and his crew are still determining how much the high tech system will cost to operate, mainly electric use and staff time. So far the staff time is equivalent to one full-time person. It may need someone there seven days a week, eight hours a day, he said. Saba said the last room where the sludge is dried and compacted is one of the most critical and labor intensive. He speculated that the process might have to happen every day, “for sure three or four times a week.” It depends on strength of sewage coming in, not total volume, he said. Someone has to be there overseeing this process. The plant has a large emergency generator to keep it going during a power failure.