Wilmington wastewater project begins

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WILMINGTON — A smoother operation is only one of the benefits of the refurbishment project at the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to John Lazelle, the plant's chief operator

"We should be much more efficient," he said. "We've got old electric heat. We're going to propane heat. The primary treatment, we're really excited about that new technology."

Penta Corporation arrived at the plant on Sept. 21. Two representatives from the construction company have been getting things ready, Lazelle told the Reformer during a tour Monday morning. One trailer is for their crew while another is for the engineering group, Aldrich + Elliott, which will have one person oversee and act as "clerk of the works." Another trailer will be used as a temporary space for Lazelle and operator Jeff Longe, who will be displaced when their office is demolished soon.

Over $2 million was secured for the project, between a bond, grant, local contribution and loan. Construction likely will shut down for some time during the winter due to extreme weather. Work is expected to conclude by late spring or early summer.

"This doesn't increase the capacity of the plant," Lazelle said. "We're still the same capacity but it definitely will get us another 20 to 25 years of operation before anything major will have to be done again."

The office is going to be tore down to the slab, he said, pointing out that the new building will be nearly double in size. The structure, built in 1964 and last renovated during the late 1980s, was originally a single story block building.

"We'll have more office space, more lab space. There will be a mechanical room, a storage room. It will be much friendlier," said Lazelle. "It's just so cramped."

Next to the office is the clarigester, set to be replaced by a rotating belt filter. At approximately 3-feet by 5-feet, the new filter will provide the same treatment as the larger equipment it is replacing. The filter will be kept in a new building that will go up next to where the clarigester currently sits.

"We're doing a whole new primary treatment system," said Lazelle. "It's (rotating belt filter) definitely the first in Vermont. I believe it's the first in the Northeast. We're excited."

Currently, one of the plant's two rotating biological contactors or RBCs is down. Repairing the unit would cost approximately $70,000. A new unit is expected to be installed by this fall. Both units will be replaced by the end of the project.

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"It takes at least a month to get growth and be operational then they can tackle that second one," Lazelle said. "We have a pretty strict ammonia nitrogen permit limit and we came pretty close to exceeding it with one RBC being down but we did not exceed it. But it was close."

Cosmetic improvements to the control building will include new roofing, siding and insulation. That space is where the chlorinating occurs. The motor control center inside, described by Lazelle as "the brain of the plant," will be replaced along with all the electrical components, including the emergency generator.

Added onto the project last minute were replacements of a water line and pipeline. The aerated lagoons will not see any changes. They were upgraded during the late 1980s.

The bond being used to partially fund the project was approved by voters at Town Meeting Day in March. Repayment of the bond will fall on the plant's users.

The challenge will be sequencing the different parts of the project, Lazelle pointed out.

"It's really tricky for them because they got to keep everything going. So the plan is to get the generator out of here then start building the motor control center right in the center, because you can't shut down. You got to keep operating until they're done," he said.

Neighbors may hear loud noises during construction, Lazelle advised, saying they may also see an increase in traffic heading to the facility.

"It's still business as usual, just a little chaotic," he said, noting that Penta recently completed a much larger project in Lebanon, N.H. "No one should see disruptions."

Updates will be posted regularly on wilmingtonvermont.us and on a Facebook page called "Wilmington VT Wastewater Treatment Plant."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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