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Treatment plant 50 percent complete

By Staff | Jul 1, 2011

As early July temperatures threaten to creep up to the high 80s and low 90s in Shepherdstown, contractors continue construction on the town’s $9.6 million waste water treatment plant.

According to Public Works Director Frank Welch, the plant, which began construction in the fall, is about halfway complete. Thus far, one structure, the digestor tank, has been erected, and a team of contractors are working on putting in a building to house the membrane filtration system.

According to Jeff Ekstrom, manager of environmental engineering for Chapman Technical Group and project manager, the months ahead mean installation of many more structures, including a membrane bio-reacotor equipment and construction of pre-screening and grit removal equipment, construction and installation of the UV disinfection system, electrical work, existing building improvements and site piping and work.

Welch said the contractor currently has a December 2011 deadline.

“The way things are going, it looks like they’ll make that,” he said.

The town will not only get a new plant, but the operation’s capacity will also be greater, in case the town’s water and sanitary board chooses to expand sewage service or more individuals move to the area, Welch said. But, he said, will expansion has been discussed for decades, there are not plans as of right now to expand service.

“The board has not committed yet to do anything as far as expansion,” Welch said. “If the town runs a sewer line out past your property, you either have to hook on or pay the bill and that’s state code.”

Though a sewage service expansion is uncertain, the new plant will meet Chesapeake Bay standards, set by the Environmental Protection Agency, and will be financially awarded thanks in part to West Virginia Senate Bill 245.

“We were the first town to really get started (and) to totally commit to meeting the regulations,” Welch said of the Chesapeake Bay standards.

The bill, which was signed into law this past spring, gives a break to the town and ratepayers financially. Shepherdstown contributed approximately $500,000 to the new plant with the ratepayers footing the rest of the bill, according to Welch.

At its May meeting, the water and sanitary board welcomed Sen. Herb Snyder who helped see the passage of SB245. At that meeting, Snyder said that $6 million in grants would be distributed to the eight counties in the bay’s watershed region every year up to 30 years. It estimated to start being dispersed in 18 months.

Meeting EPA standards, Welch said, means being able to take the nitrogen removal to five parts per million and the phosphorous removal to 0.5 parts per million.

“It takes a special treatment to try to do that,” he said.

And beyond meeting these standards that are being widely regulated across the bay’s watershed, Ekstrom said the plant’s capabilities will see other upgrades 35 years in the making.

“The improvements will improve the treatment capabilities (like) effluent quality discharging into the receiving stream, and the new equipment will operate more efficiently with the utilization of premium efficient motors,” he said.

The town’s water and sanitary board meetings monthly. Its last meeting was yesterday, June 30. Its next meeting will be July 28 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.