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Sanitation District cracks down on organic loading
6/1/2007 By: Carole McWilliams
The enforcement hammer is hanging over several commercial customers and Bayfield School District to eliminate high organic loading – mostly food-related – that they are putting into Bayfield sewer lines.
The Bayfield Sanitation District board discussed load reduction efforts on May 23. The district itself is under the enforcement hammer from state regulators to get the identified high loaders in compliance by Sept. 3. The district has imposed earlier deadlines on the individual customers.
The district sent formal notices of non-compliance to five customers, sewer district attorney Bud Smith said. “It was a nasty notice of non-compliance,” he said.
Town and sewer district manager Justin Clifton said notices went to the high school, middle school, Riverside RV Park, Streamworks, and Aspen Plaza, which has several food-related businesses.
The end of May was the deadline for those businesses to have started load reduction efforts or face enforcement actions. Smith said he thought all the notified businesses would meet that.
Clifton said the sewer district board reserved the right to start enforcement actions after the end of May, “if someone is dragging their feet. That’s when we start to evaluate solutions and the progress they are making.”
By the end of June they are supposed to have pre-treatment systems installed, Clifton said. “By the end of June there will be no no-actions. There may be insufficient action,” he said. The enforcement resolution allows for customers to make other arrangements, he said. For instance, the school district is aiming to be in compliance by Aug. 20.
Smith added, “Staff will present evidence of their loading and where they are on pre-treatment. Based on that, the board could order discontinuing sewer service as of X date.”
The May 14 compliance order that the district signed with the state includes testing sewage coming into the treatment plant twice a week.
“The sampling is going to be real problematic,” sewer district engineer Brent Adams said.
Steamworks manager Jason Keirns said, “It reflects ready, shoot, aim since the elementary school isn’t on there. …Every restaurant will need some sort of pre-treatment. It’s not just us. I feel like a huge target.”
Sewer board member Brad Elder responded, “Everybody else has a bullseye too.”
Keirns said, “It will be hard for the brewery to hit 300 (milligrams per liter concentration of organic loading) ever without massive pre-treatment. … I’m doing everything I can to take BODs (loading) out of the system.”
“The goal is to be equitable in the burden sharing,” Clifton said. “Rate payers (monthly fees) went up one-third. New construction will feel it. The town is feeling it. The district is feeling it. I don’t think anyone is going to get a free ride.”
The sewer board approved a $1,500 per lot fee to be attached to any new subdivision approval. It will be a letter of credit that the district will call on if needed to finish the new treatment plant.
Elder said that because of the town’s unusually high organic loading, the new sewer treatment plant apparently will have to be designed to handle higher than average load, adding a possible $1 million to the cost, on top of the $500,000 being spent on immediate improvements to the existing lagoons to stay in compliance until the new plant is done.
“That’s what our loading is costing us by being out of the norm,” Elder said. He objected, “There’s nothing in Bayfield that’s intrinsically different than what comes out of your (design) book. No dairy, no fruit processing, no slaughterhouse.”
If the district had sought out high loading a year ago like it did infiltration, it would have been found, Elder said. “We’re going to spend $1.5 million to deal with 1,000 mgl when it should be 250.”
Clifton said it will cost more than $150,000 to get rid of the high loads that have been found so far.
Keirns said, “It’s going to cost me a lot of money to put in pre-treatment for a board that should have done this a long time ago.”
He said Steamworks’ high samples seem to be when the brewery isn’t operating. “It’s the restaurant, because there’s less dilution. So I think every restaurant is a high loader and we all need to be on the same page.”
Steamworks is eliminating beer foam from what goes down the drain, Keirns said. “It really comes down to restaurant effluent.” He cited loading statistics for a seafood restaurant versus fast food, which is much higher. “The bare minimum restaurant has to cut their load by 50 percent. I think our grease trap was grossly under-sized and it was approved (by the district).”
He continued, “I’m researching all the things that contribute to loading. We need time and space to hold the effluent. All the restaurants need to be looking at this.”
Clifton said Tequila’s has installed a sampling port. The district also is talking to Chavolo’s and developer Dave Anderson, who is planning another building north of his first building that houses Mountain Valley Market and the Quaking Aspen restaurant.
Loading spikes hit the district both on peak loading and average loading, Clifton said. “We just added $20,000 to $30,000 to sampling to substantiate the numbers at a few point sources.”
The district will turn to other high loaders once the first ones are addressed. RV park owner Mack Coker has attended several sewer board meetings and has been working with the district on a pre-treatment system.
Clifton said he expects the RV park and Aspen Plaza to have pre-treatment in by the end of June. “Everyone is moving forward with commercial plans. Mack got his tanks in today.”
Sewer system operator Ron Saba said, “We know there are 15 possible spots. We’ve sampled nine. They are all high.” If all commercial customers had sampling ports, he said he could have the high load information in a month.
“I’m willing to wait another couple months,” Elder said. “If we still have these kind of numbers, I’ll demand search and destroy.”
Clifton warned, “You’ll have to find the money. There isn’t an extra dollar. It won’t happen by July. It will always be slower than you would like, but we’ll get mostly there.”
He told sewer directors that the school district was not one of the customers sent a formal non-compliance notice, but they are on the same schedule to get into compliance.
The school board voted on May 22 to hire an engineer to design pre-treatment systems for three district xschools. The engineering cost was estimated at $20,000.
District Superintendent Don Magill said the whole project, including engineering, will cost around $100,000. The goal is to have pre-treatment units installed at the elementary, middle, and high schools before school starts in August, he said. “Justin and the town have been great to work with through this process,” Magill said. The sewer board will review compliance efforts at its June 13 meeting.