Upgrade of wastewater treatment facility good for employees, customers, environment

Published 9:38 am Thursday, December 3, 2020

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Those disposable disinfecting wipes became really popular after the coronavirus scare started.

They still are.

Just ask a worker at Mocksville’s wastewater treatment plant. While they are advertised as flushable, which they are, the wipes remain intact when they reach the plant, which treats the wastewater, removing harmful items before returning the water to Dutchman Creek.

Those wipes – and anything else that doesn’t decompose rather rapidly – have to be raked out of the stream by town employees.

That will change in coming months as the town completes a $3-plus million dollar renovation at the plant, spurred mainly by a requirement by the state to upgrade water quality standards.

“This is probably the biggest project the town has undertaken in a long time,” Chuck Willis, the town’s contracted engineer, told town board members last month. The job, he said, is a few months behind schedule because of rock found beneath the surface.

Staff at the facility are most excited about the new screening system, which will trap anything bigger than a quarter of an inch without staff having to deal with the “gross” debris. Not only does the system remove the debris, it puts it in a dumpster.

“During the pandemic, our industry has been rocked (by disposable wipes),” Willis said. “We have to figure out how to get them out. This will be a huge improvement in the amount of nasty things the staff has to handle.”

The improvements will also include a secondary clarifier and pumping station. Those are where most violations have occurred over the past several years, Willis said.

“This will be much more efficient, and easier to meet permit limits.

The plant also has a solid digestion storage, where those solids are made available for fertilizer. Willis expects twice as much “fertilizer” to be produced.