Clarifier Flushing System Saves Fairhaven Money

A little ingenuity solves a clarifier problem at the Fairhaven Water Pollution Control Facility
Clarifier Flushing System Saves Fairhaven Money
At the Fairhaven (Massachusetts) Water Pollution Control Facility, ingenuity goes a long way. Staff members created a clarifier flushing systems to reduce scum buildup.

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Editor's Note: This article is part of a profile on Linda Schick of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, which was published in the June 2015 issue of Municipal Sewer & Water. Read the rest of the profile here. While you're at it, subscribe to MSW to receive even more news from the sanitary, storm and water system maintenance industry.

During heavy rains, inflow and infiltration increase flows to the Fairhaven (Massachusetts) Water Pollution Control Facility from 2.7 to 16 mgd in four hours. The additional debris washed down by the storms taxes old grit collectors and wears out shoes and buckets. Replacing the latter stressed the budget and didn’t solve the problem.

All that changed when mechanic Joseph Frates joined the team in 2004. He saw the load was greatest on the buckets’ rear bearings, so he welded a metal toe to the buckets. With the load counterbalanced, the buckets rode smoothly and evenly around the tracks.

“Joe is an outstanding mechanic,” says Linda Schick, superintendent of sewer and wastewater. “He’s also taken metalworking and welding classes, enabling him to fabricate replacement parts that are no longer available.”

Saving the town money is Frates’ forte. The plant has 200 to 300 manually operated valves, some frozen with age. Frates dealt with them and other important valves by reconfigured piping, cutting in or cutting out valves, or putting in bypass valves. “He has 25 to 50 more to replace, but the critical ones are done,” says Schick.

Frates’ ingenuity also helps save money. When scum built up and froze on the clarifier chutes, he invented a flushing system.

“It looks like a toilet float ball connected to a rod in the side of the chute,” says Schick. “As the rake arm travels over the chute, it trips the ball, which discharges enough water to clean the sides.”

The influent isn’t warm enough to prevent freezing because I&I dilutes it.

Saving money by doing as much work as possible in-house included gutting the bottom of the chlorine building and retrofitting it to accept UV disinfection.

“We built two channels, each with two banks of UV bulbs, and rerouted the effluent line,” says Schick. “The monorail used to move the chlorine tanks now lifts the banks of 288 bulbs for cleaning. It’s a pretty cool retrofit and everyone is proud of it.”


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