FUD plans equipment replacement

First Utility District plans to replace the aeration equipment in two of its three ditches at its Turkey Creek Wastewater Plant by September.

“I use the analogy of a car,” Bruce Giles, FUD manager, said.

Giles said, just as a car needs oil changes and tune ups to run properly, so too does FUD’s wastewater plant.

Mark McKinney, engineering supervisor, said the contract value is 4.4 million. FUD’s contractor is Judy Construction Company.

“We’re very careful with our funds,” Giles said. FUD will not borrow money to fund the project. Customer rates will pay for all of the changes. However, he said, work on the upgrades will not result in rate changes.

There will be no change in service to customers either during the time that FUD will replace the aeration equipment or after the time of the upgrades according to McKinney. During the upgrades, the other basins can do the job of the one being upgraded.

Construction on the project, Giles said, began in 2015. FUD had been planning the changes to its wastewater treatment facility for years.

“A wastewater environment is one of the harshest environments in the world,” said Giles in a phone interview. “The things that are produced and just the environment itself are very hard on equipment.”

The new jet aeration system will replace surface aerators that have become a maintenance problem. McKinney said that replacing equipment every 20 years is the typical industry standard and that this phase of equipment replacement came at the scheduled time. He sees the new jet aeration equipment as an improvement over the older, harder to maintain surface aerators.

“We’ve switched to a different type because we’ve had mechanical issues with the type that we had before, so we wanted to do something different that we hope will be much less maintenance intensive,” McKinney said. He mentioned that the plates that contacted the water in the old system broke fairly often.

According to McKinney, with the jet aeration system, the plant will be able to perform the same level of treatment while using less electrical power.

The oxidation ditches are where the biological treatment process occurs. In that process, bacteria treat the water to prevent algal blooms that can kill fish and wildlife. Oxygen, provided by an aeration system, is the essential part of the process.

The jet aeration system uses a combination of pumps, blowers, piping systems and sensors to keep the basins completely mixed and supply the appropriate amount of air to sustain the biological process.