For the vast majority of us, little thought is given to wastewater treatment. We flush the toilet, run the garbage disposal or perhaps, watch the bath tub water disappear down the drain and unless the drain backs up, we move on with our lives.
Nonetheless, wastewater treatment is a critical part of modern life. Historically, chamber pots were dumped in the streets, the blood and offal from slaughter houses went straight into the street (Cincinnati’s Victory Parkway was once named Bloody Lane because of the number of slaughter houses located on that thoroughfare), as did the waste from animals that were used for transportation.
If past practices of dumping untreated sewage into the streets and waterways continued today (and unfortunately, in many areas of the world it still does) there would be rampant outbreaks of waterborne diseases, unimaginable pollution, and we would live in an environment that would not support most wildlife.
Sidney’s current wastewater treatment plant was designed in 1955 with an average design flow of 2 million gallons per day (MGD). Major facility improvements were completed in 1968, 1988, 1993, 2001 and in 2016. The latest project, designed to be completed in phases, is currently underway.
Phase I of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) mandated improvements is nearly complete. Phase I upgrades will improve capacity for wet weather events. Phase II, expected to begin later this year, will include improvements to the anaerobic digester, replacement of blowers, and improvements to our pump stations. Once the improvements are complete, the plant will have the ability to disinfect all flow coming into the plant, even during wet weather events.
The City of Sidney’s Wastewater Treatment Plant is rated as a Class IV facility by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) and is a “Conventional” Activated Sludge Facility. The treatment, or removal of pollutants, is carried out in a number of separate processes. Each process is dependent on the others to work effectively.
How does this process work, you might ask? Sewage enters the wastewater treatment plant through the sanitary sewer system. The system provides service to the residents and businesses within the City of Sidney, the Village of Port Jefferson, and the Honda of America Anna Engine Plant.
The preliminary treatment process begins with incoming sewage (influent) flowing through a grinder. There, cutting teeth shred objects that are suspended in the incoming flow. This helps prevent larger objects from damaging equipment during the treatment process. Additional processes are undertaken to remove any material larger than ¼” diameter.
The primary treatment process is then begun with the influent aerated and channeled into a primary clarifier. The primary clarifiers allow organic solids to settle to the bottom of the clarifier. Those solids are collected and pumped to the anaerobic digesters for further treatment, described shortly.
Once this process is complete, the sewage is then classified as primary effluent. The majority of the pollutants in the primary effluent consist of dissolved and suspended solids.
The writer is the mayor of Sidney.
See Monday’s editorial page for the second half of this column.