By Jackie Nelson
The Hesston City Council is working with the City Utility Department to undertake a major overhaul of the wastewater treatment plant.
Utility Supervisor Scott Roberton said the plant was in need of an upgrade.
“We have two lift stations that were put in in 1968 and 1970. The plant is 30 to 35-years-old and not much ahs been done. And, like anything, it wears out,” he said.
Robertson said the replacement of two lift stations will prevent sewer water from backing up into lines.
“The lift stations are just where we pump water that comes in a wetwell. The headworks and sewer plant removes things which can’t be broken down biologically.
Robertson said the current plant simply is not meeting the demands of the community.
“Right now, headworks are non-existent,” he said.
Even if the plant had a headworks system, Robertson said the areas for biodegrading of toxins is no longer sufficient.
“The aeration basins are where the biological process starts. We have to add oxygen to make the process work, and right now, they type of system we have in inadequate, especially in the summer when it is really hot. It is hard to keep the dissolved oxygen levels,” he said.
Robertson said with dated equipment, he fears there may be an increased chance homeowners may suffer.
“It is our responsibility, once it gets to the main, we have to make sure it gets to the plant. My worst nightmare is someone calling with sewage in their basement and it is our fault. We try to keep our system maintained as well as we can,” he said.
A primarily gravity system leads sewage out of town and to the treatment plant.
“From the point it goes into the homeowners lateral, and that lateral dumps into the wastewater main. From there, gravity will make its way to the plant where it is treated and is discharged into Emma Creek. Hopefully, soon, that water – instead of being discharged into the creek – will go to the golf course for irrigation and not be wasted,” he said.
Robertson said the lifts, which are necessary when the gravity system has reached a point where wastewater must be moved up-hill, are not pumping at all times, but are run as-needed.
”On the far end of town, we have a lot of different lift stations and it cycles. If the flow is low, it could sit for hours,” he said.
Once wastewater reaches the plant, Robertson said it is cleaned of materials and toxins.
“The biological process takes care of it. There is a lot of chemistry. When we discharge into the creek, we have to meet a lot of parameters. And, we do disinfect the water before it goes into the creek,” he said.
Robertson said there is not only an immediate need for the improvements, but with community growth, it is a necessity.
“With the town growing, this will, hopefully, take us into the future. By updating the plant, it allows us for any future growth that is coming. If something comes in that discharges more than normal, we will be able to handle that. It is good for the future of our community,” said Robertson.
For more information on the Wastewater Treatment Plant plan, see next week’s Hesston Record.