Upgrades and repairs to the Oakdale Wastewater Treatment Plant are finally complete, and Oakdale City Council members toured the completed facility on Monday, Jan. 9. The tour was considered a special meeting of the Oakdale City Council, but the council took no action during the session.
“They won’t be taking action to accept the project until after they hear what the peer review process has come up with,” said Interim City Manager Greg Wellman.
The upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility began in 2007 when Oakdale’s quarterly water monitoring revealed fecal coliform contamination in the water. The state issued a notice of violation and the city started the process of upgrading the wastewater treatment facility to prevent re-occurrences in the future. The project bid came in at $12 million and construction began in fall 2009.
The wastewater treatment plant improvement project initial study in 2008 found three “significant” problems with the wastewater treatment plant: the efficiency of the secondary clarifier, the lack of a disinfection facility, and the existing sludge beds’ inability to perform during the winter season. Those problems were all addressed during the current upgrade project.
“The water that comes out of that plant now is almost to drinking water standards,” said Joe Leach, director of public works for the City of Oakdale.
The addition of an ultra violet light decontamination stage and extra filtration has helped the Oakdale wastewater treatment plant meet state standards for coliform and nitrogen levels. The new stages of the filtration have been operational for several months, and plant operators check monitoring wells for water quality.
“All of our wells met that standard last quarter,” said John Lane, plant supervisor.
The wastewater treatment facility previously dealt with solid waste by drying it in open-air drying beds. The process worked well in summer months when the weather was dry, but was not possible during wet winters.
“This plant was overloaded with sludge five years ago, and it was getting that way again,” said John Word, project manager representing the City of Oakdale.
The new upgrades included the installation of a screw press, which handles solids when open-air drying is not an option. Solid waste is compacted in the screw press and hauled away by Gilton Solid Waste Management to a landfill.
A specific design flaw in the water removal step of waste treatment was causing pipes to be clogged with solids. HDR Engineering corrected the problem at no expense to the project budget. Leach said that HDR Engineering has had less than 1 percent change orders for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade project and by all accounts, it was a “very successful project.”
However, council members wanted to make sure that there were no more issues that needed correction before the project is deemed complete. They hired a third party reviewer, Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group, to ensure that the upgrades were completed correctly.
“You don’t do a 13 million dollar project without some hiccups. We’re getting close to the end of warranty on some of the equipment out there. This is just insurance that everything was done correctly,” said council member Jason Howard.
Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group will give its report on the facility upgrades at the Tuesday, Jan. 17 council meeting. The full agenda for the Jan. 17 meeting will be available on Thursday, Jan. 12.