The Wastewater Treatment Plant is now well into the rehabilitation phase.
On Sunday, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) updated a water contact advisory that was issued in 2019 for a section of the Mississippi River near Greenville.
Per MDEQ, the advisory was initially issued due to operational issues at the plant that resulted in the discharge of minimally treated wastewater into the river.
“We’ve made a lot of progress at the plant over the last year,” Manchac Management Services’ Justin Haydel told the Greenville City Council during their Dec. 15 regular meeting.
Back in February, the city council agreed to allocate $1.5 million towards the 2020 Wastewater Treatment Plant rehabilitation costs for items needed to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrative Order.
William Burle, the city’s consulting engineer, explained to the council at that time the issue with the plant was that it had been accumulating sludge for several years instead of disposing of it because there was no place to store it, hence, the authorization from the council to revitalize the Belt Press building.
Haydel provided the mayor and council with a detailed report of the progress of the plant and began by informing them that the $2.1 million which was authorized to make improvements to the plant over five years through 2023 was capped at $1.5 million for the year.
He noted that the authorized amount had not been exceeded, but is in fact, roughly $100,000 away from the set cap.
“We’ve replaced all of the diffusers in the basins except for four or five,” Haydel said, adding all of the plant’s basins had to be cleaned and the diffusers within the basins, replaced.
Speaking further to the severity of the issues with the plant, Haydel also informed the council that almost every piece of equipment needed for the plant, which includes pumps, diffusers and valves, is being or has been replaced.
“Hopefully by next summer we’ll be able to put the plant back in service,” he told the mayor and council.
Based on Haydel’s report, the most concerning aspect of the plant currently is the clarifiers.
He highlighted their design and the difficulty presented in working on them.
Haydel said with the base of the clarifiers being only six inches thick, they aren’t able to withstand the hydrostatic pressure typically exerted during the cleaning process.
“Right now, we can only do one clarifier at a time, maybe one per year, and it would cost about $250,000,” he told the council.
Hemphill and Avis Construction companies have already cleaned out some of the clarifiers and clarifier #4 is approximately 60% of the way cleaned out, according to Haydel.
Essentially, the clarifiers are a crucial part of the plant being fully operational.
Mayor Errick Simmons commended Haydel on the progress he and his team has made with getting the plant to where it is now.
“As required by their permit, the city’s engineers contacted MDEQ concerning repair operations that would require the bypass of the wastewater treatment plant and the use of disinfectant prior to discharge to repair major treatment components whose ongoing failure instigated the initial water advisory,” MDEQ communications director Robbie Wilbur explained. “Once notified, MDEQ requested construction details and the schedules concerning the work to be performed during the anticipated bypass. Several repairs have been coordinated to occur during the bypass in order to minimize the amount of time that the bypass will be required.”
The latest water contact advisory reflects Wilbur’s statement as the repair work beginning this week and continuing into February 2021 will result in a planned discharge of minimally treated wastewater into the river.
“We continue to work with the city and its engineers to ensure the plant’s repairs bring it back into compliance as soon as possible,” he said.