Several Us Cities Open New Wastewater Treatment Plants

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( — February 4, 2022) — Wastewater treatment plants have been operating across the United States for decades. For example, the Four Rivers Sanitation Authority has been treating wastewater for the Rockford, IL area since 1926. The first known water treatment plant was created in Scotland in 1804.

Since the early 1900s, water treatment centers have expanded to every U.S. state, with multiple plants in some larger cities. Recently, municipalities have been opening additional treatment plants to keep up with the demand. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the new plants in operation, but first, let’s explore why wastewater plants are necessary in the first place.

What is wastewater and why is it a problem?

Wastewater is toxic to humans and the environment, especially aquatic life. In order to maintain a healthy ecosystem, wastewater must be treated before it’s released back into the environment.

Wastewater consists of the water used in homes and businesses. Many people dispose of their greywater through pipes that lead out to a grassy area. However, blackwater is toxic and requires special treatment. With the exception of a septic system, the blackwater that gets flushed down the toilet goes straight to the sewer.

Once collected, all of this water needs to go somewhere – it can’t just collect indefinitely. However, it can’t be released into a body of water without first being treated. That’s where wastewater treatment plants come into play.

How do wastewater treatment plants work?

Wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove as many contaminants as possible before releasing the water into a lake or river. These treatment plants filter contaminants out in stages. Large particles are filtered out first, followed by grit like sand and coffee grounds. These are all sent to a landfill.

Next, solids are separated and sent to a different system for special treatment. The remaining water is treated with high-powered bleach and sodium bisulfite is added to remove as much chlorine as possible. Once the water has been through the entire process, it’s discharged into a nearby river.

New wastewater plants and upgrades to existing plants

There are new treatment plants popping up all over the U.S., and many underperforming plants are being scaled to operate fully. Here’s a list of some of those plants.

Sanford Village, Michigan

In Sanford Village, MI, a new wastewater treatment plant is in the works. Two representatives from a civil engineering, planning, and surveying company spoke at a city council meeting to see if the city had any resources to help them better manage the town’s wastewater.

EL Paso, Texas

In early January, an existing, but underutilized treatment facility in El Paso, TX began operating at full capacity. Residents in El Paso had recently experienced broken sewage lines that caused a terrible stench to linger in the area. Some unlucky residents had sewage backing up into their homes. The backups were caused by an underperforming local water treatment plant.

The problem was fixed when the John T. Hickerson Reclamation Facility went from collecting four million gallons per day to ten million gallons per day, operating at full capacity.

Elkhart, Indiana

In Elkhart, Indiana, construction has just begun for an $18.4 million upgrade to an existing wastewater treatment plant.

Hastings, Minnesota

In Hastings, MN, a 70-year-old treatment plant is being relocated where it will undergo a massive upgrade. The move is a prerequisite for the upgrades. Currently, the plant processes two million gallons of wastewater per day, but the city is growing and will need a higher capacity.

The physical location is constrained, so the whole plant is being moved to a 221-acre location. At this location, the site will be upgraded to process the larger amounts of water needed to support the growing population over the next twenty years. This will cost the city a total of $145 million and is expected to begin construction between 2024 and 2026.

Wastewater treatment is essential

Our society needs capable wastewater treatment facilities to function since not everyone has or can install a septic system. Treating toxic blackwater before releasing it back into the environment through rivers and lakes is crucial for keeping aquatic life alive and safe.

As more cities experience rapid population growth, they’ll have to upgrade existing facilities or build new ones to accommodate the influx of wastewater. This is just a partial list of the cities working hard to take care of their residents. Eventually, most of the nation’s largest cities will be adding new plants or upgrading existing facilities to meet a growing demand for clean water.