Council learns wastewater plant overflowed
While the Washington City Council was considering whether to declare substantial completion on the new wastewater treatment facility, administrator Brent Hinson informed the members that 1.8 million gallons of water were bypassed on March 11.
According to a report, the new 15 million gallon EQ basin filled and bypassed the overflow outlet and the high level float had been set too high so the alarm dialer didn’t notify anyone.
“It’s a combination of factors,” Hinson said. “I think the biggest thing is the ramping up and using all the tanks available. We were using two tanks, and just because there is additional flow you can’t start using those.”
Hinson said there had also been a malfunction with the way the new plant was supposed to interface with the existing lagoon. He said water didn’t flow to that.
The city is working with the Fox Engineering firm, which designed the plant, to come up with a solution to determine why the water isn’t flowing to the lagoon. He also said there will be some process changes in how the plant is ramped up.
Hinson said the city had informed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources right away. He said that the area where the discharge occurred was sampled and was well within acceptable limits.
“The DNR is not concerned at this point,” Hinson said. “Obviously if we have repeat bypasses, they will become concerned.”
During the meeting Mayor Sandra Johnson said that she believes the engineering firm should design the fixes to the plant without charge to the city. She said the city would have to pay for the materials to make the repairs. Hinson said that the city is going to work with the firm to deal with the problems.
Hinson said that the plant has a higher limit that the former treatment facility in the amount of wastewater it can take, but in an “extreme” situation, it may overflow again.
He explained the bypass means the water level had overflowed into a nearby stream. He said that the city hadn’t thought the incident would happen.
“We are not happy with this and we expected with the new plant we would never have this occur,” Hinson said.
In other business, the council:
• discussed a request by council member Bob Shellmyer to revisit the budget for the coming year;
• agreed to send requests about having livestock in town to the city’s planning and zoning committee;
• held a public hearing on plans for the South Iowa mill and overlay project and approved sending the plans to the Iowa Department of Transportation;
• held a public hearing on and approved annexation of Country Club Road; and
• approved the creation of a city attorney transition task force.