Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2018

$74 million sewer plant will help Lawrence grow and be more environmentally friendly

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer with the City of Lawrence, stands above the Biological Nutrient Removal basin at the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E. 41st St., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer with the City of Lawrence, stands above the Biological Nutrient Removal basin at the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E. 41st St., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

February 14, 2018

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One of the city's biggest infrastructure projects in recent years is nearing completion, and with it the possibility for the city to expand in areas it could not before.

The city’s new sewage treatment plant just south of the Wakarusa River is undergoing final inspections and is scheduled to open next month. The more than $74 million Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant will improve the city’s ability to manage heavy rainfall and nutrient pollution as well as enable additional development.

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer with the City of Lawrence, passes by the new administration building at the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E. 41st St., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer with the City of Lawrence, passes by the new administration building at the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E. 41st St., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer for the city, said that the city’s existing sewage plant in eastern Lawrence is projected to meet capacity this year, and the new plant allows development in areas the city’s current plant can’t accommodate.

“It allows for future growth in west and south Lawrence, because there were some places that could not develop until this (plant) was here,” Harger said.

The plant, at 2300 E. 41st St. — it is basically south of where O'Connell Road ends at the Wakarusa River — will increase the capacity of the city sewer system by 2.5 million gallons per day, or by about 20 percent, Harger said. The main plant covers about 25 acres, and includes labs, water storage, control stations and nutrient-removal basins.

"It's the largest capital project the city has done in the last 10-20 years," Harger said.

The plant’s cleaning process has four main steps, Harger said: an initial grit and trash removal, biological nutrient removal, final clarification to remove solids, and disinfection via ultraviolet bulbs. She said the plant is scheduled to open in mid-March and will operate with about six staff members during the day and one at night. Lawrence's existing plant east of Eighth and Delaware streets will continue to operate.

Some of the infrastructure at the Biological Nutrient Removal basin of the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E 41st St., is pictured Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Some of the infrastructure at the Biological Nutrient Removal basin of the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E 41st St., is pictured Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

The new plant's nutrient removal step will ensure the city meets Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Environmental Protection Agency requirements. Harger said the city must ensure that the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia in the water released into the river are below certain levels because too much can harm the ecosystem.

For instance, too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water — a form of nutrient pollution — can cause large algae blooms that harm water quality and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic animals need to survive, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA states that nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and human health issues.

The new plant is also designed to reduce the amount of rainwater that enters the current plant during large rainstorms, which can reduce overflows of sanitary sewers into waterways. The Wakarusa plant includes a 5-million-gallon basin that Harger said will help the city manage heavy rainfall and reduce overflows.

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer with the City of Lawrence, stands above the Biological Nutrient Removal basin at the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E. 41st St., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Melinda Harger, utilities engineer with the City of Lawrence, stands above the Biological Nutrient Removal basin at the new Wakarusa Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2300 E. 41st St., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

“During those wet weather events, some of those higher flows can be sent to the Wakarusa plant,” Harger said.

City officials previously have said the existing plant takes on about 80 million gallons of storm water and sewage during a 10-year storm, even though the plant has a design capacity of about 65 million gallons.

The new plant is being paid for through previously approved rate increases for water and wastewater. In 2013, city commissioners approved a new five-year rate plan that increases water and sewer rates by 5 to 7 percent each year.

Comments

David Holroyd 1 week, 1 day ago

At the expense of the city users. Look at the water bills, well, should say the collection fee bills.

Money for the sewer plant but NO MONEY for the mausoleum.

A dedicated commission at it's worse.

Bob Summers 1 week, 1 day ago

I'm guessing the mausoleum is already "environmentally friendly".

David Holroyd 1 week, 1 day ago

Bob, you don't mind to I call you Bob, I hope. The residents(remaining) at the Oak Hill address sadly have no voice or vote...so they don't count.

One has to wonder why this Mr. Rogers of the Parks and Rec Dept can't get the job done.

When I was in the Army, and wanted to complete a project I went to my Commanding Officer, one James D Smith. He asked what I needed, he gave me the manpower and the resources to get the job done.

Mr. Markus the commanding Officer should do likewise. If he cannot he should be demoted and in part of his punishment for being incapable he could do some cleaning.

Mr. Rogers is very convincing in his position. Nor are ANY of the commissioners.

Sad bunch. And only a little over 3 months to Memorial Day. It is a pitiful bunch of leaders.

Ken Lassman 1 week, 1 day ago

" Harger said the city must ensure that the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia in the water released into the river are below certain levels because too much can harm the ecosystem. "

Here's a concept: instead of filling the Wakarusa River valley with houses and chemlawns that bleed out excess fertilizer, pesticides and effluent, why not maintain a healthy agricultural and wildlife mix that will feed the area, filter excess nitrogen and phosphorus biologically, and maintain wildlife habitat that has been here since the ice age? Why not choose a healthy mix of rural and urban that support each other instead of a Johnson County sprawl as the model of our future?

“It allows for future growth in west and south Lawrence, because there were some places that could not develop until this (plant) was here,”

Who chose that as the best use of our county? Isn't the title of this article: "$74 million sewer plant will help Lawrence grow and be more environmentally friendly" an oxymoron? Isn't it time to ask for a future where there are incentives for local food production, wildlife/green corridors and habitat restoration projects? Even Johnson County has more of these than Douglas County and we need to jump on it fast if we don't want endless sprawl.

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