Plant working to better its service

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

To most of us, waste water is something we can flush down the drain and forget.

To Austin's Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), however, sewage is serious business. As a result, they're working to become more effective and more efficient by repairing and upgrading some of their equipment.

According to Jim Samuel, superintendent of the WWTP, one project is taking place on site at the treatment plant and another is taking place at the southwest lift station.

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At the treatment plant, he says, "two combination digester-equalizer tanks are being constructed and will be used to treat waste from Hormel Foods and Quality Pork. We currently have one equalizer and two digesters. The equalizer is an open tank, but the new ones have covers which should help with odors. The digesters are old, we've probably had them since 1960, and needed to be renovated."

Having two new tanks also "will add redundancy to the industrial plant and allow us to treat the waste water better. When we talk about something being redundant it means that if you have one tank that can handle all the waste water you get, you add a second in case of equipment failure," Samuel explains.

The new tanks cost $3,916,000 are expected to be finished in the spring of 2003. Samuel says once they go on-line, the WWTP will be able to remove the old ones and renovate or reuse in some way.

Meanwhile, the WWTP also is renovating its southwest lift station for $477,000, which Samuel says is "a general upgrade of the monitoring and pumping system will give us more equipment in case of equipment failure."

City Engineer Jon Erichson adds the lift station "pumps waste water to the treatment plant and the renovations will give it more capacity for the southwestern part of the city, which is a growing area."

Call Amanda L. Rohde at 434-2214 or e-mail her at