Saline Starts Work On Remodeling And Expanding Wastewater Treatment Plant

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Image Credit: The City of Saline

Saline is getting too large for its aging wastewater treatment facility to manage. That conclusion that the city has reached is what led it to decide to move forward with renovating its existing facility to serve Saline’s citizens for decades to come.

“There’s no way to continue to meet the demand of the community unless we make a significant investment in expanding the capacity of those facilities,” City Manager Colleen O’Toole said. “While we’re doing that, we really want to be cognizant of not having to turn around and spend a significant amount of dollars again in the near future. We’re really trying to be smart about calculating that growth trajectory.”

That is why the city is seeking a third party consulting firm, to check the numbers of Tetra Tech, an engineering consultancy which has been assisting the city in the plan. Tetra Tech did not respond to requests for comment.

In terms of scale, City Manager Colleen O’Toole said that a project of this magnitude “Might not happen again in my lifetime.”

Image Credit: The City of Saline

The current plant was constructed in the 1950s and modified several times. Tetra Tech identified almost $32 million in needed improvements in a presentation to council at the last meeting. It averages 1.5 million gallons per day according to Tetra Tech. The company estimated that the capital costs of using the current site will be $76 million.

The project will involve adding new technology, expanding storage capacity, and conducting an infiltration study over the next eight to twelve months, according to Marl. Construction is not expected to begin until 2022.

“The nice thing about moving forward with the growing in place strategy, is that we’re just adding capacity onto the current plant. So we can continue keeping most operations online, with very little service operation, while we continue disruption,” O’Toole said.

The current plan is to install secondary waste carriers, expand UV disinfection, improve digesters, expand the sludge storage tanks, install a 1.5 million gallon equalization tank and expand the number clarifiers –giant concrete drums that removes solid objects – from two to four.

The plant has enough room, but adjacent parcels are being considered for addition to the campus. The land is a brownfield and soil samples are being analyzed for a possible clean up.

Image Credit: The City of Saline

The final cost of the project is yet to be determined. But council was united in its move to “grow in place” at the current location, rather than select a location for a new plant, because that could have crossed the $100 million mark. This included moving to a new facility or hooking up with a neighboring system, which would have cost millions more.

Saline will be applying for a loan from the state revolving fund, which is a fund to help local municipalities pay for projects like this. This process will take at least six months before the size, interest rate and payback schedule of the loan is known.

This investment in Saline’s infrastructure may very well effect water rates of course.

“Our goal is to not have that hit all it once,” O’Toole said, promising to “ease in” any increase gradually.

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