Athens Improves Wastewater Treatment Plant
“[The upgrades are] essential for increasing our capacity as well as our efficiency,” said Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Two major changes are being considered: updating the square clarifiers that are inefficient because of their shape and changing the outdated chlorine filtering technology to ultraviolet wastewater filtering.
Clarifiers are the initial step in the wastewater treatment process. Currently, the clarifiers at the plant are rectangular which causes sewage to settle in corners, opposed to circular clarifiers where that would not be an issue. The city will likely “change the configuration [of the clarifiers] to make them more efficient,” said Wiehl.
The second technological improvement being considered is the overhaul from chlorine to ultraviolet filtration. Ultraviolet filtration is a better method for the local water supply according to Nancy Bain, first ward representative. As it stands, potentially harmful chlorine-charged water is released into the Hocking River after the filtration process. The ultraviolet transition will mitigate this.
An ordinance authorizing the city to seek bids for engineers to design the improvements was introduced during last Monday’s city council meeting.
The city will borrow $800,000 from local banks to pay for the engineers, and when the designs come in the city will borrow another $10-15 million for actual construction.
“These changes are not going to be cheap, sewer rates are going to go up,” said Bain.
Sewer rates will increase two to three percent in the next five years and the rates will be reassessed at the end of that period, according to Wiehl.
Other things being looked at for improvement are strainers at the plant that remove large physical objects in sewage water and replacing old cracking concrete.
The construction will likely start in the fall of 2012, according to Bain.