News Briefs: Flushable Wipes Causing Turmoil for Michigan WWTP

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, the Niagara Falls Water Board says it doesn't anticipate another black discharge like those experienced in 2017; and the governor of Washington declares a state of emergency due to flooded WWTPs

News Briefs: Flushable Wipes Causing Turmoil for Michigan WWTP

So-called flushable wipes are causing serious issues for a wastewater treatment plant out of Muskegon County, Michigan, and residents are complaining about the smell of sewage.

In one of the plant’s settling tanks, the wipes are clogging up motors and causing issues for the aerators. Plant Director David Johnson says only six of 14 are working, and it’s not enough.

And since the oxygen is low, solids are rising to the surface and creating a mat. “This is the first time we’ve had this sludge rising to the surface,” Johnson told Detroit Free Press.

Normally, he and his crew would go out in a boat and fix the aerators, but the mat of solids is preventing the boat from moving.

In the meantime, the crew is pumping water into a different treatment cell where there is sufficient oxygen in an effort to get rid of the layer of solids.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency after flooding in the eastern part of the state due to snowmelt started overburdening wastewater treatment plants in a three-county area.

The declaration is in effect until May 19, and covers the three affected counties along with another 17 counties at risk of significant flooding.

“Flooding caused by recent rains and snowmelt has fouled water and sewage treatment facilities, threatened state highways and local roads and caused some people to leave their homes,” Inslee told The Seattle Times. “Continued higher temperatures are predicted to increase snowmelt and cause additional flooding as rivers and streams continue to rise to record or near record levels.”

The Niagara Falls Water Board recently released a statement saying it does not anticipate another discharge like the ones last summer and fall that blackened the Niagara River now that the wastewater treatment plant has initiated some changes.

“Over the last six months, the NFWB has made some significant wastewater treatment plant system technology tweaks and process improvements, working in concert with both outside engineering, counsel and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. One of the most important updates includes changing the procedures for dewatering sedimentation basin No. 5 and ensuring DEC oversight during any future dewatering activity with that specific basin,” the board wrote in a statement.

“It is of course important to remember that not all overflow and color contrast issues can be fully eliminated without a full system overhaul at the entire treatment plant. The NFWB is currently studying that overhaul scenario and plans to unveil additional improvement strategies later this year,” read the statement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking his state to spend $125 billion on infrastructure improvements over the next five years, including funding for clean water infrastructure.

He says the proposal is part of a plan to rebuild the state and create more jobs for middle-class workers.

The $125 billion figure would include state, federal and private-sector funding.


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