News Feature | November 11, 2016

As Communities Grow, Wastewater Needs Become Challenges

Source: Aerzen

As cities grow, so do their need for wastewater treatment capacity. As small communities across the country have demonstrated recently, this growth isn’t always easy.

The village of Homer Glen and the city of Lockport, both in Illinois, are teaming up to determine just what changes in wastewater treatment could be necessary in their near future.

Four local subdivisions are treated by Lockport’s Division Street plant, one of the two wastewater treatment plants that it owns and operates. Homer Glen will contribute up to $23,500 to help fund a Lockport study to improve its operations there, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“The study would help provide information as to the maximum capacity of the Division Street plant and whether it can be expanded to meet future growth, according to Homer Glen officials,” the Tribune reported. “A second study would determine if a new regional wastewater treatment plant should be built, and if so, the older Bonnie Brae plant could be decommissioned.”

Meanwhile, efforts by the city of Dripping Springs, TX, to grow its wastewater treatment operations have been met with protests.

“City planners want to reduce the number of septic systems and small independent utility districts that will serve future developments,” reported Fox 7. “Doing that requires changing how the town’s wastewater treatment plant operates.”

Fox 7 reported that the city has requested a state permit to discharge almost one million gallons of treated wastewater into a tributary that eventually feeds into local waterway Onion Creek. Last month, environmentalists staged a Halloween-themed protest.

“Those at the protest fear treated wastewater could cause algae blooms on the waterway,” the report said. “They also believe it could seep into the Edward’s Aquifer which feeds Barton Springs Pool; miles away in Austin.”

City officials contend that the discharge permit request was only made as a back-up plan, similar to many other such provisions around the country. The treated wastewater is being sold to local developers for use during irrigation and on public green space. Whatever goes unsold will be held in a storage pond, per Fox 7.

“I don’t want to say [the treated wastewater] is cleaner than Onion Creek currently is, but I guess the best analogy is, would you drink the water in Onion Creek today, and the answer would have to be no,” Mayor Pro Tempore Bill Foulds told Fox 7. “What we are putting into it will be of a similar quality, in some areas it might not be as good of quality, but it will be a highly treated wastewater affluent.”