Village Board agrees to Elburn wastewater treatment plant upgrade

By on April 25, 2013

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn village trustees all gave the nod on Monday to a $7.6 million plan to modernize Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. representative Jeffrey Freeman’s presentation to the Village Board was the second step in educating the board and the public on the need for the project.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven conducted a tour of the plant, which is more than three decades old, on Saturday morning, pointing out the areas where improvements are necessary.

The improvements will modernize the plant, but will not increase its capacity, Freeman said. The improvements will allow the plant to work more efficiently and effectively.

The plan calls for the addition of a new headworks building and sewage pumping station, an automated screening system, a clarifying tank with twice the capacity of the current two tanks, and two new digesters.

Village President Dave Anderson said that the current pumping station, located 30 feet below the ground, and the small elevator that a public works employee must take to reach it, is a safety issue. When an employee is down in the pumping station alone, there is no cell phone coverage.

“You wouldn’t do it at home,” Anderson said.

The current screening process requires that a village employee manually remove the sludge from the grid twice a day, no matter what the weather. The sludge is carried away in buckets. The improvements would include an automation of this process.

In addition to the improvements recommended by EEI, the village will need to make several improvements to meet new EPA standards for phosphorus removal. These improvements account for $670,000 of the $7.6 million project.

Freeman laid out the timeframe for the project, with the design work to begin in June after the board formally approves the project. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approval would likely take place by the end of 2013. Construction would begin in September 2014, with the target for completion set for October 2015.

The village will seek a low-interest loan from the EPA, with the project ultimately paid for with an increase in residents’ sewer rates. Freeman said it will come out to an increase of about $40 a month for an average water user, although this increase will likely be phased in over time.

The sewer rates are calculated based on the residents’ water usage, as wastewater usage is not measured. The average household uses 700 gallons of water per month.

Freeman also said that, with additional growth, the cost will come down, as it is spread among more people.

Anderson emphasized that the need for the project is not due to projected population growth.

“These improvements have nothing to do with new construction,” he said. “They have to do with operation, maintenance and upgrading of the existing plant for the existing community.”