City opts for plant upgrades
By DAWNE LEIKER
In an effort to stay in compliance with state and federal requirements for wastewater operations, the city of Hays is moving ahead with wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
Hays city commissioners at their Thursday meeting approved a $74,635 bid from R.E. Pedrotti Co. for supervisory control and data acquisition upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.
Nearly a decade ago, the city was faced with what seemed the inevitability of replacing its wastewater facility sometime in the mid-2010s, City Manager Toby Dougherty told commissioners Thursday night.
However, by reaching out to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and seeking in-house adjustments and smaller incremental investments, replacement of the plant has been moved further down the road.
"We've come to find out that we've gone from a plant that probably needed to be replaced within three to four years to something that is viable, according to KDHE, for the next 10 to 12 years," Dougherty said. "And hopefully beyond."
Although other investments in the system will be necessary in the next few years, Dougherty said those investments are much more palatable than replacement of the entire facility.
"There'll be other investments that will be $100,000 here and there to make it more viable, but that's a lot better than a $25 (million) to $30 million investment," he said. "This has definitely paid off where we're going."
During Thursday's meeting, director of utilities Bernie Kitten gave commissioners an overview of the projected changes to the wastewater treatment facility.
The improvements he outlined will include:
* Blower building control system upgrades to reduce nutrient discharge as requested by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The blowers provide air to the aeration basins, which is the heart of the biological process. The upgrade is projected to improve air control and reduce electrical consumption.
* Reclaimed water systems. This upgrade will be implemented due to the need for constant monitoring of the chlorine residuals at the reuse basins. Due to shift changes, which have eliminated evening employees, the chlorine feed system needs monitoring when the plant is not staffed. This element of the SCADA upgrade helps the city meet National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements to meet a specified level of chlorine in reuse water.
* A plant effluent ammonia analyzer. SCADA will track ammonia levels in discharge water.
* Chlorine and sulfur dioxide feed systems. The NPDES permit requires a reading of zero for chlorine residual in effluent water. At present, operators monitor the level by running tests and making adjustments to meet requirements.