News Briefs: Heavy Rains and Sump Pumps Cause WWTP Woes

In this week's news, sump pumps cause problems for a wastewater treatment plant, Montana lowers loan rates for infrastructure projects and a city experiments with reclaimed water.
News Briefs: Heavy Rains and Sump Pumps Cause WWTP Woes

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Heavy rains and excess water from homeowner sump pumps nearly caused disaster at a treatment plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., last week.

“Our wastewater treatment plant has never, ever, worked as hard as it worked last night and is currently working right now,” said Mayor Mike Huether in a press conference.

The plant, which treats 16 mgd on average, was hit with more than 57 million gallons of wastewater after a series of storms pushed through the region. To keep up, crews pumped excess water into basins and lagoons. Two areas in the town also experienced sewer backups during the storm.

“It doesn’t take very many sump pumps to overwhelm an 8-inch line,” said Public Works Director Mark Cotter in a KELO TV news story.

Faced with another round of storms, the mayor pleaded with the public to stop dumping sump pump water into drains.

Source: KELOLAND Television

Montana Governor Reduces Water, Wastewater Loan Costs

As part of his Main Street Montana program, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will lower interest rates and other charges for state loans that finance water and wastewater projects. In his announcement, Bullock estimated the reductions would save local governments $29 million over the next 20 years.

Loan rates will be reduced from 3 to 2.5 percent, and will apply to 19 projects, including a $26 million wastewater treatment plant in Butte and a $17 million wastewater treatment plant in Glendive.

The governor has the power to adjust the revolving loan fund. Low interest rates in the market are allowing the state to offer lower rates to local communities.

Source: The Montana Standard

Pilot Project Expands Water Reuse to City Irrigation

A pilot project in Columbus, Neb., could pave the way for a more extensive water reuse program in the city. Earlier this month, employees at the Columbus Public Works Department began using effluent to irrigate grass around the wastewater treatment plant. Marty Eaton, plant supervisor, said WWTP employees initiated the project. They built a makeshift irrigation system, which diverted some of the effluent to the plant’s landscaping.

If feasible, the project could extend to the nearby Quail Run Golf Course, which uses about 55 million gallons per year from a small lake for irrigation. Reclaimed water would be pumped into the lake and then used by the golf course.

Eventually, the plant would also like to install an underground sprinkler system to irrigate the grounds with reclaimed water.

Source: Sioux City Journal 

Municipality Declares Zero Tolerance Of Fuel Contamination

In Albuquerque, N.M., where contamination from a Kirkland Air Force Base fuel spill is slowly seeping toward municipal wells, officials have decided they will shut down drinking water wells if any contamination is detected — no matter how low the level. The fuel leak, which was detected in 1999, could reach water sources in five to 40 years, according to the latest estimates.

“The acceptable level in our waters is zero,” says County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley in an Albuquerque Journal article.

This declaration makes official what agency staff members have said for four years — that no level of ethylene dibromide is acceptable. The board resolution also called for the Air Force to move more quickly to clean up the spill.

Source: Albuquerque Journal

After Years of Planning, Upgraded Maryland Plant Opens

In Snow Hill, Md., residents have cause to celebrate. An upgraded wastewater treatment plant, which was originally proposed 15 years ago, is not only online, but it’s exceeding nitrogen and phosphorus discharge goals.

After years of struggling to secure funding, the town received money from the U.S Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of Environment.

The $14 million upgrade expanded the plant to 500,000 gpd with a future capacity of 667,000 gpd. In May 2014, the Maryland Rural Water Association named Snow Hill the Wastewater System of the Year.

“This has been a very long journey for us,” said Mayor Charlie Dorman on “ We finally got here. We’ve now got cleaner water going into the river.”

Source: Delmarva Now

Golden Algae Creates Musty Odor in Drinking Water

Complaints about drinking-water odors have kept operators in at the Bellingham (Wash.) Water Treatment Plant busy. Thanks to a type of nontoxic golden algae, Uroglena americana, the plant has received more than 30 complaints from residents in different parts of the county, claiming the water is “musty, earthy or dirty.”

Last year, golden algae was reported for the first time in Lake Whatcom, which is the source of Bellingham’s drinking water.

“It’s hard to tell if things might change on their own, or if we can do anything at the water treatment plant,” says Eric Johnson, assistant director of operations for Public Works in a Bellingham Herald article.

The city is already planning a pretreatment plant, which would solve water-quality problems. The plant is set to be designed in 2015.

Source: Bellingham Herald


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