Study may lead to future improvements

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is requiring a study to be done on the Washington Wastewater Treatment Plant as part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said the study may lead to the need to upgrade the plant to reduce the amount of phosphorus being discharged.

The Washington City Council will vote during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Washington Public Library on whether to implement the study. The city had budgeted $20,000 for the study, but Hinson believes the study will cost about $16,000. He also said the plant is a Sequencing Batch Reactor and was selected because it could be readily upgraded to remove nutrients.

?It is something that was required when we got our nutrient permit that we would have to do a study by a certain date,? Hinson said. ?We?ve known this has been coming for about a year, so we put it in the budget for FY2018 to do that study. We haven?t got any sort of order yet and we don?t know if we will get an order in the near future, but at this point they are requiring studies to take a look at how much nitrogen and phosphorus we are discharging.?

The study is required to be done by March 1, 2018.

Hinson said depending on the results of the study, there could be additional capital expenses to comply with any new state regulations. He said the city doesn?t even have the basic operational parameters.

?At the time the operational permit was issued they didn?t even have any operational guidelines to my knowledge,? he said. ?Not knowing what those even look like, you have no idea what you are supposed to comply with and you have no idea what the cost will be for that.?

He said the investment in being able to easily upgrade the plant was made when it was built in 2011-12. He also said at some future time it is likely that upgrades will be necessary. He said the study is to better help the city understand what improvements will be needed.

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. It is designed to direct efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point and nonpoint sources in a scientific, reasonable and cost-effective manner.

The Iowa strategy outlines a pragmatic approach for reducing nutrient loads discharged from the state?s largest wastewater treatment plants, in combination with targeted practices designed to reduce loads from nonpoint sources such as farm fields. This is the first time such an integrated approach involving both point sources and nonpoint sources has been attempted.