It works, but it doesn’t smell very good.
But luckily it’s not something $10.3 million from a low-interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority – an agency dedicated to helping water and sewer utilities. to finance projects – could not repair.
Using approximately $600,000 of borrowed funds, the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission is installing a new odor eliminator system at the Brunswick-Glynn County Wastewater Treatment Plant. ‘Academy Creek on US 341 to complete some bacterial processes set up in various sewers. pumping stations leading to the factory.
Like almost every other sector of the economy, COVID-19 has impacted the availability of materials in the wastewater treatment world. The JWSC is only waiting for new screens to filter materials like plastic, fabric and some papers from sewage before completing installation of the new system, which could take place in the spring, the JWSC executive director said, Andrew Burroughs.
Beginning processes to remove the odious gases before they reach the plant alleviated the problem somewhat, Burroughs said. But once the raw sewage reaches the plant, it is pumped into an open wet well before beginning the first stage of the treatment process.
There was little the JWSC could do about this before Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, when the utility administration began researching options to fund new generators to power pump stations in water and sewer during a power outage.
A $15 million loan from GEFA and JWSC funded a new odor control tower, among many other improvements at the Academy Creek plant.
The odor control tower uses a medium to extract odor-causing bacteria from the gas that comes from the wet well as it rises through the tower.
Burroughs said 99.9% of sulfides are removed, performance guaranteed by the manufacturer.
After ascending the tower, the cleaned air passes through a set of carbon filters before being returned to the atmosphere. Given the tower’s efficiency, Burroughs said the filters wouldn’t be necessary most of the time, but are a safety measure.
With the combination of bacterial processes started before the wastewater reaches the plant, the odor control tower and the carbon filters, Burroughs said complaints about odors at the plant should be a thing of the past.
It’s not particularly expensive in the long run. Start-up costs are high, but maintenance should only cost a few thousand dollars a year, he said.
In comparison, the budget of the three treatment plants in the Brunswick region is $5 million. Academy Creek gets the majority of that.
The odor control system isn’t the only improvement. The GEFA loan was also used to replace the sewage separation box – a large concrete cube in which sewage is directed to one of three aeration basins – with a new model, much smaller and more effective.
In aeration basins, wastewater is churned so that the bacteria used to break down solid waste can get the air they need.
From there, the decomposed wastewater flows into clarifiers, which slow the water down and allow the remaining solid waste to settle. Solid waste is collected from the bottom while water is pumped into what Burroughs calls the chlorine contact chamber.
The water is treated with chlorine and filtered one last time before being returned to Academy Creek.
Other improvements include a new set of filters that would come before the chlorine contact chamber, further improving water quality. They didn’t go online due to software issues.
The loan also paid for a new system to transport sludge – the solid mass left over from the treatment process – from the Dunbar Creek and Southport treatment plants to Academy Creek for drying.
Dry sludge – called cake by the plant crew – is much lighter and cheaper to haul and deposit at a disposal site than sludge, saving the utility dozens of thousands of dollars per year.
The upgrades save the JWSC money, but they’re also good for the environment and the community, Burroughs said.
By replacing some of the old infrastructure with new, more efficient and often smaller equipment, the plant can meet demand without having to increase in size, he said.
That won’t be a problem for some time, he said, because the Academy Creek plant is now able to handle about twice the average flow of wastewater it receives.