WILMINGTON >> A refurbishment project at the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant is well underway and those who are involved are pleased with the progress.
"All the piping is in the ground. They just have to do the final grading," said John Lazelle, plant chief operator, during a tour on Wednesday. "Overall, things have been very smooth."
Over $2 million was secured for the project, between a bond, grant, local contribution and loan. Only minimal changes or revisions have been made to the original plan, Lazelle reported. Completion is expected by June 1.
One issue, Lazelle said, involved underground digging.
"It was difficult in spots," he said. "There were four to five obstructions in one ditch. Then we found some things we didn't know were in the ground."
Lazelle said the project is coming in right on budget, but he acknowledged project leaders won't know if that will continue until the last dollar is spent.
"There have been no surprises," he added.
The new lab/office building was framed in the same place as the previous building. Still to go are electric, roofing and mechanical components.
"This more than doubles our space," said Lazelle, standing inside the structure. "It's coming along well."
Upstairs will offer storage space. The room will be accessed from the outside.
A sewer gas system will monitor the air quality coming into the building and make adjustments as needed, according to Lazelle.
"It's definitely different from what we had before," he said.
The plant is operating without two rotating biological contactors, which are large pieces of equipment that deal with the biological treatment of wastewater after primary treatment. They are due to be replaced by two units being delivered now.
"One of them broke down in 2014 and so it was a big push to get the new RBCs done. Our second RBC went down in the middle of November. It's a major part of process," said Lazelle. "We're really rushing now to get those new RBCs in place."
In the winter, he said the bacteria is not as active. The plant has a less "stringent" permit limit during this time of the year and it hasn't come close to reaching the limit. The lack of RBCs could have been problematic in the summer.
Also to be replaced is the clarigester, which removes about half of the suspended solids coming into the system and 90 percent of the settleable solids. A rotating belt filter going in its place will be the first primary treatment system of its kind in Vermont and possibly the Northeast. A new filter will be housed inside a new building going up next to where the clarigester currently sits.
The control building will see a generator removed. Its larger replacement will be kept outdoors, giving more space inside. In its place will be a new motor control center. Previously, Lazelle had to search the auction website eBay for its parts.
Currently, Lazelle is advertising the old generator. He said he has gotten some interest.
On average, he has seen about eight to 10 workers on site for the past couple weeks. But soon, mechanical plumbers, masons and electricians will arrive.
Lazelle finds himself putting in a few more hours since the project started.
"There's been a lot of administrative stuff," he said. "Sometimes we're being pulled in three different directions."
A contractor may have a question about where an item will go while an engineer might ask about the project overall. The general contractor is Penta Corporation and the engineers are Aldrich + Elliott. Monthly meetings are held at Town Offices with representatives from those groups plus the United States Department of Agriculture, which assisted with project funding.
"What's nice is this is one of the first projects where a lot of things are electronically submitted. So whenever the engineer gets a submission from a contractor it goes online to Dropbox," Lazelle said, referring to a file hosting service available on the Internet. "They've been very good about allowing us input."
Social media has also been put to use. Lazelle posts photographs and videos on Facebook weekly. They can be found by searching Wilmington VT Wastewater Treatment Plant.