Utility upgrades could save city $1.9 million

Improvements to its wastewater treatment system could save the City of Union as much as $1.9 million over 15 years through reduced energy consumption.

Union City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a resolution authorizing Mayor Harold Thompson to apply to the State Revolving Fund Loan for a low-interest loan under the Clean Water Act. If approved, the loan would be used to finance a $3,105,000 program of utility improvements. The proposed improvements included the replace of the headworks and arerators at the Tosch Creek Wastewater Treatment plant. Utility Director Joe Nichols said the equipment, which was installed in 1972 and underwent minor upgrades in the 1990s, are obsolete making it difficult and expensive to obtain replacement parts for them. He said the arerators, which pump air into the sewage treatment system, will be replaced with a system that will use less power and reduce energy costs.

“The four arerators that we currently have are fixed arerators that need repairs to their gear boxes and motors,” Nichols said. “The replacement parts we’d need for the arerators are obsolete and would have be machine made at a cost of $40,000 each. The Diffused Air System we’re replacing them with is more energy efficient and will reduce overall energy consumption at Tosch Creek. The new system will save approximately $1.9 million over its 15-year life cycle.”

Nichols said the existing headworks will be replaced a modern system that will more thoroughly screen the waste water coming in to the plant and keep out untreatable solids such as sticks, plastic and concrete debris that find their way into the sewer system. He said these solids cannot be treated and simple settle into the basin where they must eventually be removed at an additional cost to the city.

The project also includes the replacement of the Coleman Street, Lukesville and Ottaray pump stations, which are also outdated. The new stations will include a new wet well with duplex submersible pumps. New force mains will also be installed at the Coleman Street and Ottarary sites while Lukesville will continue to use the existing force main.

In a report to council, Finance Director Walker Gallman stated the loan the city is seeking has a standard interest rate of 3.25 percent for 20 years. However, Gallman said it is possible that approximately $1 million of the project could qualify as an energy efficient or “green” initiative with an interest rate of only 1 percent.

Bids Awarded

In other business, council also voted unanimously to award the bid for the repair of the spillway at Foster Park Lake to Ray Lemons Bulldozing for $9,473.42.

Public Services Director Perry Harmon said the project is designed to address a leakage problem that’s developed at the old spillway on the right side of the lake. He said the project includes capping the existing spillway where there are cracks and building a head wall in front of it to stop the leaks.

Council also voted to award the bid for the fill material for Kenwood Landfield to Smith Backhoe and Construction of Union for $4,125.

Harmon said Kewood Landfield is the city brush pit on Walnut Street. The city is required to cover the brush with dirt once a month. He said Smith will provide the city with 75 loads of dirt which will be stockpiled at the site and used as needed.

By Charles Warner, Reporter with The Union Daily Times