The water is dirty and foul-smelling as it rushes into Milton’s wastewater treatment plant from underground pipes that collect it and funnel it to the facility.
After it’s treated, the water – called “effluent” – looks clean and aerated as it is sent into the Blackwater River, often cleaner than the river’s own water.
But there are many steps in between, all designed to disinfect and clean the fluid, which comes from toilets, sinks, homes, businesses and storm water infiltration just to mention a few of the sources.
When it arrives at the plant, “it’s really nasty stuff,” says Ricky Hinote, director of water and wastewater for Milton.
The plant’s system first grinds up larger material – leaves, trash and derbies, and removes sand and grit before it can damage the plant’s pumps and other equipment.
A variety of treatment stages remove contaminants harmful to the environment like BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand), TSS (Total Suspended Solids), phosphorous and nitrogen to name a few. All of these things could cause damage or harm to the environment. The pumps and aerators speed up and slow down as needed to treat the wastewater.
Rainy weather costs
The summer rains put an extra load on the plant.
While the plant would process 1.4 million gallons on a typical day, the unusually heavy summer rain pushed the average to 2 million gallons a day in July. Generally, $1,450 worth of chemicals would last 20 days at the plant, but the rainfall meant that supply was gone in 14 days.
The plant is permitted by government regulations to handle 2.5 million gallons a day and could actually handle 3 million gallons if needed, says Hinote.
Sludge is removed, dewatered and eventually disposed in the landfill.
The effluent is moved through a series of basins where it is treated. For example, chlorine disinfectant gets rid of fecal coliform and harmful bacteria which can cause diseases. Later, sulfur dioxide is used to remove the chlorine disinfectant from reaching the river, which could be toxic to small marine life. (The Chlorine and Sulfur dioxide neutralize each other)
The process is overseen 7 days per week, 16 hours per day, not only by the eight-member crew, but, also by electronic monitors that send alarms if problems arise.
Just in case, right next to the plant is a 3-million-gallon reject storage tank which will hold the effluent if didn’t meet the permit limits to be discharged into the river. In case of any disruption in the treatment process, the effluent will be stored in the reject tank until the problem can be corrected. After normal operations resume, the reject water is directed back to the front of the plant and treated again.
Posted in City