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Bayfield seeking sewage treatment violators
3/16/2007 By: Carole McWilliams
Bayfield Town Manager Justin Clifton is pushing an aggressive strategy to deal with overloading in the sewage treatment plant and to lift the moratorium on selling new sewer taps, maybe even later this month.
The strategy includes interim improvements, cutting system infiltration, enforcement crackdowns, and higher sewer tap fees and monthly rates.
He laid out the plan last week to the Bayfield Sanitation District board and a room full of business and property owners, developers, and contractors.
The sewer board will hold a work session on March 19 to review an engineer’s list of options for interim fixes, with a decision expected at their March 21 meeting.
The March 21 decision will involve potentially expensive steps to keep the system from violating influent and effluent permit limits while a new treatment plant is designed and built over the next 18 months.
Clifton warned, “Most likely the price will exceed the district’s ability to pay and not care about the capital reserve fund” – meaning it would use money earmarked for the new plant, which is estimated at $6.5 to $7 million.
He wants to tie this interim fix to being able to pay for it by selling sewer taps.
“My priority is to be able to lift the restrictions (on tap sales) on the 22nd,” he asserted. It’s really up to the state to allow that, he said, even though the town imposed the moratorium on itself on Feb. 20 to avoid a state-ordered halt to new building permits.
The sewer board also is likely to approve higher tap fees and monthly rates on March 21.
Last week a baffle was installed in the sewer plant’s third lagoon to keep sewage in it longer and allow more sludge to settle out before it is discharged into the Pine River. The plant had discharge violations in December and January when the lagoons “turned over” because of the cold temperatures.
Clifton’s plan also includes removing years of accumulated sludge by the end of April. That has a substantial risk of stirring up the sludge and causing its own discharge violations.
But sludge removal should make violations less likely next winter if the lagoons turn over again, he said.
Clifton’s action plan also includes a goal of eliminating at least 70 percent of system infiltration compared to a year ago. Town staff started identifying and fixing infiltration sites last May.
The plan includes a carrot and stick approach to reducing organic loading coming into the system. Loading is measured both by concentration (milligrams per liter) and pounds per day.
Customers are violating district rules if their sewage loading concentration is above 300 mgl. Sewer district attorney Bud Smith said the norm for households is around 200 mgl, or 0.42 pounds per day.
Clifton explained to the Times that a customer with loading above 200 mgl or 0.42 pounds per day is supposed to have more than one tap. No one should have loading above 300 mgl.
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