By CRISTIN REECE
Palestine city officials are working to keep the city’s wastewater treatment facility from “running downhill.”
This week, council members approved an agreement with Jones & Carter Inc. to design and construct several upgrades at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Improvements include new rotor pump motors, a new electrical system for the raw water pump station and a redesign that would allow the use of non-treated water in the wastewater treatment process.
“All of these improvements will allow the city to decrease its expense in the treatment process,” City Manager Mike Ohrt said.
Two of the city’s four rotor pump motors were upgraded recently and Ohrt said the last two will be upgraded during this project as well. The rotors help move the solid waste along the treatment plant and also help oxygenate the wastewater as it is treated.
“Upgrading these rotors and pumps will accomplish a couple things,” Ohrt said. “We’ll see increased efficiency with the new equipment so we’ll see fewer breakdowns, which in turn helps improve the life span of the system.”
The second part of the facility’s improvements includes installing a new water intake structure to allow the city to use water pulled directly from the Neches River to process wastewater, rather than clean, treated water bought from the city’s drinking water supply.
“Obviously this will save us a lot of expense in the long run,” Ohrt said. “We’re not using clean, treated drinking water we have to pay for to help treat our wastewater.”
The treatment system will also get a much-needed electrical systems upgrade as well.
“It’s getting challenging to find qualified electricians to work on our current system,” Ohrt said. “The voltage system we use is outdated. We’re looking at redesigning and rebuilding those four pumps to use a more common voltage.
“It’ll not only increase the plant’s efficiency, it’ll be easier and less expensive to maintain as well. We want to try to keep up with the newest technology available.”
After the city treats its wastewater, the water is expelled back into the Trinity River. Ohrt said the city’s treatment facility continues to exceed the state’s standards and mandates concerning the treatment of wastewater.
The city’s wastewater treatment facility treats an estimated 3 million gallons of wastewater a day — 7 million during peak summertime usage.
“Our forefathers were very wise in the planning our water infrastructure,” Ohrt said. “We’ve not needed to ration water at all, and won’t need to in the future. We’re extremely blessed.”