From The Mountain Mail (Ryan Summerlin):
The Salida Wastewater Treatment Facility was recently recognized in an article by Treatment Plant Operator magazine for winning the 2013 Wastewater Treatment Facility of the Year award.
TPO magazine is the industry’s go-to publication, said Randy Sack, wastewater plant manager.
“We were given this award because Salida was proactive on staying up to date with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment mandates for effluent water quality,” said Dan Poole, a plant operator at the facility.
“And our success is largely due to the level of experience of our crew,” said Sack.
Sack is going on 37 years of wastewater treatment experience in Salida. The three employees under him have 30 years, 20 years and 5 years experience.
“We do the maintenance, run the lab, do the reporting – we even take turns doing the lawn outside,” Sack said.
“We’ve also been without a lost-time accident over the last 13 to 14 years. And we work in a very dangerous environment with poisonous gases and acids.”
The facility has also recently implemented a new treatment process called IFAS (integrated fixed-film activated sludge), which creates an environment for microorganisms that break down the waste.
The facility saw instant improvements when it implemented the new system, Sack said.
Before, the plant had been using a “trickling filter” system, which consisted of large tanks with rocks lining the floor where the microorganisms lived. With the new system thousands, if not millions, of half-dollar-size discs containing the microorganisms float in the wastewater and consume the waste before the water flows to the facility’s next compartments.
“With this new process, we were also able to get away from using chlorine gas in our disinfectant stage during final treatment,” Poole said. “Now, we use ultraviolet light for disinfectant.”
The measure of the facility’s success is clean water flowing back into the Arkansas River, said Sack. His crew runs a variety of tests on the water in their lab, covering biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, E. coli testing, pH levels, temperature, phosphorus levels and many other useful measures.
In addition, flathead minnows and ceriodaphnia, a species of water flea, are tested in the water to make sure they can survive in the effluence, Sack said.
“Unfortunately, you don’t achieve that success without some pretty high energy bills, but we’re working to cut those costs where we can,” he said.
More wastewater coverage here.