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Weather finally allows for work to begin on Thayer wastewater plant

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thayer residents should be seeing some progress on the new wastewater treatment plant being built at Thayer in the coming weeks. Thayer Mayor Buddy Rogers said a ground breaking ceremony will be held in the near future.

"The weather has put us behind about four weeks, but things should be in full swing Monday," said Rogers. Rogers said the snow and mud have made it difficult to get the equipment needed to get started on the project into the location. "Right now, all we have down there is a crane, but hopefully we can begin moving in the other equipment right away."

The wastewater treatment plant had to be built after the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) informed the city that the old system was no longer usable. With no choice but to build a new plant, the citizen's of Thayer approved a one-half cent sales tax to finance half the cost of the system, $2,125,000, while stimulus money will pay the remaining $2,125,000. The $4,250,000 project should keep the city in good shape for another 30 years, Rogers said.

"Because the citizens approved the sales tax, there won't be any increase in the sewer rates," Rogers said.

In preparation for the new system, sewer lines are in the process of being smoke tested to see what kind of repairs may be needed on them. "We've tested about half the city so far," Rogers said, "and have only found about 800 feet on Sunset that will need repaired. We think that's pretty good."

Rogers said that estimates call for the project to be completed in about a year, but, "I think it will be closer to 18 months," he said.

The project engineer is Charles Ray from Missouri Engineering in Rolla.

Ray said in an earlier interview that the Thayer plant "is 35 years old. It's out used its useful life. This will be a complete makeover of the same type, which is an extended aeration oxidation ditch plant. We're going to rebuild it totally and get them into the capacity that they need to be able to operate and stay within compliance with DNR."

Ray said the oldest a water treatment plant can get before becoming inefficient is about 20 years.

Waste Water Treatment Manager Mike Alexander said he has noticed some problems with the current system. The main problem with the system, he said, is INI (inflow and infiltration). "What it is, is water that not normally is supposed to go through the sewer system, that's infiltrating into our system; rain water, just all kinds of sewer line leaks where water is getting into the system and the treatment plant is just over the years deteriorating and the flow is getting extensive."

About 90 percent of the pipes in the system are clay tile pipes. Alexander said these types of pipes have a joint about every three feet and at every joint there is a possibility of leakage. "Basically, DNR has said, 'Fix it uptown or fix your treatment plant where it can handle it (extra flow).' We're going to do a little bit of both," Alexander said.

Ray estimated that crews will work on about 2,000 feet of sewer lines.

Alexander also said because the treatment plant is so old, parts of the plant are wearing out. "Our treatment plant has one clarifier. Last year, the clarifier went down and (DNR) told me, 'You're the only plant I know that has one clarifier.'" He said, usually, treatment plants have two clarifiers to divert flow if one of them goes down.

"We're still putting out a good quality effluent," Alexander said. "There are times when we're not able to stay online and we have to switch to a storm water basin, and that's what DNR is not happy about."

Alexander said plans for the project include turning the current clarifier into a sludge holding basin and there will be two larger new clarifiers to take the place of the one old clarifier.

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