Tag Archives: sewage treatment

#TDIWH—February 17, 1916: Fertilizer from Activated Sludge and Flood in San Diego

Many decades later, the use of biosolids for fertilizer is catching on

Many decades later, the use of biosolids for fertilizer is catching on

February 17, 1916: Municipal Journal article. Fertilizer from Activated Sludge.   “Milwaukee, Wis.-The sewerage commission that is directing the construction of Milwaukee’s modern system of sewage disposal with a big plant on Jones island, operated by the new activated sludge method, is about ready to experiment with the sludge deposits left after streams of sewage have been purified. Chief engineer Hatton believes that this sludge can be manufactured into a commercial fertilizer which will command a market value ranging from $10 to $20 per ton. If the experiments are successful the sludge will be the source of considerable revenue which will decrease the operating expenses of the system which with its large intercepting sewers draining the whole city, will cost $10,000,000 or more. A special building will be erected for the treatment of the refuse to be worked into fertilizer form. Nine of the large concrete tanks recently built for the treatment of continuous flows of sewage are in operation and the other two will soon be ready.”

Flooding by DamFebruary 17, 1916: Municipal Journal article. Repair Flood-Damaged Water System. “San Diego, Cal.-The San Diego water system was hard hit by the storm which caused the flooding of the Otay valley. According to belief of the water department officials the conduit system is almost ruined. In places miles of trestle have been carried down the mountains. In other places the concrete flume was washed out by the hundred yards. To carry water from Morena dam to Upper Otay, as proposed, will entail expensive work and six months or more time, according to the belief of manager of operation Lockwood, who waited an official report from supervisor Wueste and engineer Cromwell. Morena dam stood the storm.”

Reference: Municipal Journal. 1916. 40:7(February 17,1916): 244.

#TDIWH—February 13, 1913: Cleveland Sewage Treatment

0213 Cleveland Sewage studiesFebruary 13, 1913: Engineering News article. Sewage Disposal Investigations at Cleveland. By R. Winthrop Pratt. “SYNOPSIS-Preparatory to the design of sewage-treatment works for Cleveland, Ohio, a series of tests is being made of various methods of treating the sewage. The causes leading up to the decision to treat the sewage, and to make the tests before building the proposed works are outlined and then the testing station is described. The station includes grit chambers, screens and tanks for preliminary treatment, rapid filters or scrubbers, sprinkling filter, auxiliary settling tanks, and a disinfection plant for final treatment; tanks for dilution studies; sludge digestion tanks and sludge-drying beds, and an office and laboratory….

On July 25, 1905, the city appointed a commission of experts, consisting of Rudolph Hering, George H. Benzenberg and Desmond FitzGerald to study the general question of improved water-supply and sewerage for the city. This commission, about six months later, submitted a report in which was recommended:

(1) The extension of the water-works tunnel to a point about four miles from the shore.

(2) The construction of an intercepting sewer system to collect the sewage from the entire city and discharge the same into Lake Erie, at a point about 10 miles east of the Cuyahoga River. This intercepting sewer was to be designed to carry twice the dry-weather flow from one million people, on the basis of 200 gal. per capita, or a total of 400 gal. per capita per day. This plan involved several overflows into the lake and river to take care of the discharge in excess of the above amount.

(3) The construction of a river flushing tunnel and pumping equipment for the purpose of pumping clean lake water into the river above all local pollution, was recommended by two members of the commission.”

Reference: Engineering News 1913. 69:7(February 13, 1913): 287.

#TDIWH—February 3, 1909: Sewage Disposal in Pennsylvania

0203-activated-sludge-plant-at-clevelandFebruary 3, 1909: Municipal Journal and Engineer article. Sewage Disposal in Pennsylvania. “As indicated from time to time in our columns, the matter of sewage disposal is just now assuming more importance in Pennsylvania than in possibly any other State of the Union, this being due largely to the activity of the new State Board of Health under the recent laws endowing it with unusual powers. Two of the latest propositions as well as the largest are those which are ordered for the cities of Harrisburg and Pittsburg. The public press of the former city states that the city officials are about to begin at once preparing plans for works which are roughly estimated to cost one and a half to two million dollars. This does not contemplate the present treatment of the sewage of that city, but only a better location of outlets and the preparation of plans for treatment. Pittsburg, however, is directed to take immediate steps toward building a sewage disposal plant which is estimated to cost fifteen to twenty million dollars; this order possibly being hastened by the typhoid epidemic which is sweeping through the small towns located on the river below Pittsburg.”

Commentary: It was only after the turn of the century that states began to get serious about requiring treatment of sewage before discharge to local streams.

Reference: “Sewage Disposal in Pennsylvania.” Municipal Journal and Engineer. 26:5(February 3, 1909): 167.

February 2, 1918: Sewage Plant Completion in Cleveland and Water Waste Survey

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire...Again

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

February 2, 1918: Municipal Journal article. Ask Time Extension for Sewage Plant Completion. Cleveland, O. The city council has passed resolutions asking the state department of health for an extension of time in which to complete plants built to prevent the pollution of Lake Erie and Cuyahoga river. The state health department had ordered the city to install sewage works for preventing the pollution of the lake before Feb. 13, 1918. The city has already spent and has contracted for the expenditure of more than $700,000 for the construction of sewers and treatment works in accordance with the order. Because of delay in determining the legal status of a recent act of the legislature, which permitted the raising of the necessary funds authorized at a recent election and of much time consumed by necessary studies and investigations, the city asks extension of time until Feb. 13, 1920. In the case of the Cuyahoga river, the city had been originally ordered to stop pollution by July 1, 1915, and had then had the time extended to July 1, 1917, but now it requests a further extension until July 1, 1920.

Commentary: The reader may recall that we have marked several occasions when the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to the wastes dumped into it. Controlling sewage discharges did not fix all of the river’s problems.

Worker conducting leak survey

Worker conducting leak survey

February 2, 1918: Municipal Journal article. To Complete Water-Waste Survey. Buffalo, N. Y.-On the recommendation of commissioner Kreinheder council has authorized a complete survey of the city’s water waste at a cost of about $44,000. The Pitometer Company of New York is to do .the work along the plans followed by it in a partial survey made some time ago. George C. Andrews, water commissioner, estimates that the survey will result in an annual saving of $80,000 in coal bills and of about $40,000 in wages. The city has been divided into ten districts for the purposes of this survey, one of which has been covered. Two others will be completed in the spring.

Commentary: Founded in 1897, the Pitometer Company (Associates) was in business for 99 years and helped cities save untold billions of gallons of water. In 1996, Severn Trent Environmental Services, Inc. acquired Pitometer Associates, Inc.

Reference: Municipal Journal. 1918. 46:5(February 2, 1918): 98.

December 17, 1914: Small Sewage Treatment Plant

1217 Imhoff TankDecember 17, 1914: Municipal Journal article—Small Sewage Treatment Plant. “The Home for the Indigent of Delaware County, Pa., is located in Middletown Township, near the village of Lima, and on the main highway leading from Media to West Chester, Pa. There are usually about 125 inmates the home, although during the winter months the number runs higher. With employees, etc., the number of persons contributing to the sewer system will average about 140.

The sewage flow varies considerably on different days. When the laundry is being operated, the total daily flow to about 10,000 gallons, 60 per cent of which runs off in about 6 hours. On all other days, the total flow amounts to about 4,000 gallons.

The plant consists of an Imhoff tank, dosing chamber, percolating filter, secondary tank and sand filter, as shown on the general plan. Both the sewer system and treatment plant operate by gravity….

The plant has now been in operation for about one year and has given perfect satisfaction. No odors are noticeable at any portion of the plant. The sewage is kept in a fresh state and is passed through the plant as rapidly as consistent with the degree of purification necessary.

The Imhoff tank has fully demonstrated its value even in an installation as small as this. The incoming sewage is kept fresh and free from the “blown up” sludge, so common in both plain settling tanks and septic tanks. At a recent inspection by the authors, the vents were covered with scum about 6 inches thick and considerable gas was being produced and given off. This gas was entirely inodorous and inflammable, which substantiated the claim of the inventor.”

Reference: Mebus, P.E. and F.R. Berlin. 1914. “Small Sewage Treatment Plant.” Municipal Journal. 37:25(December 17, 1914): 877-9.1217 General Plan for Small Sewage Treatment plant

December 14, 1928: Sewage treatment plant at Boonton; 1853: Founding of Compagnie Générale des Eaux

Boonton Dam and Spillway

Boonton Dam and Spillway

December 14, 1928: Start of operation of sewage treatment plant at Boonton Reservoir. “In 1925, a trunk sewer intercepting the wastes from Dover, Boonton and smaller habitations in New Jersey on the Rockaway River was completed. Continuing to confound and delay water and sewer development in the watershed, the Morris Canal figured into the final plan for sewers. The alignment for the intercepting sewer included part of the right-of-way for the Morris Canal and the canal had to be abandoned before the sewer could be completed. At about the same time, a sewage treatment plant at Boonton was finished. The plant employed the trickling filter method of sewage treatment followed by sand filtration and chlorination of the plant’s effluent. Because of a number of delays, the sewage treatment plant was not put into operation until December 14, 1928.”

Reference: McGuire, Michael J. 2013. The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives. Denver, CO:American Water Works Association, Chapter 11.

Imperial Decree from Napoleon III Establishing Compagnie Generale des Eaux

Imperial Decree from Napoleon III Establishing Compagnie Generale des Eaux

December 14, 1853: Founding of Compagnie Générale des Eaux (now Veolia). “Compagnie Générale des Eaux is founded and obtains its first public service concession to supply water to the city of Lyons. On the initiative of Napoleon III and throughout the entire Second Empire, the creation of private companies to operate the urban water systems opens the way for modernization and enhances the quality of life in towns and cities. Count Henri Siméon embodies this dynamism when he founds the Compagnie Générale des Eaux in 1853: ‘In the new times ahead, be certain, sirs, that millions will be allotted to the supply of water, just as millions were allocated to railways previously.’

November 19, 1914: Operations of Sewage Plants; 1914: Racine Sanitary Policies

Wisconsin Wastewater Operator Short Course Attendees 1937.

Wisconsin Wastewater Operator Short Course Attendees 1937.

November 19, 1914Operation of Sewage Disposal Plants. By Francis E. Daniels. “A man in charge of a sewage disposal plant should know what each unit of his works is doing every day. A skilled observer may detect faults and short-comings with some degree of certainty by mere inspection; and if the output is bad and a heavy pollution is occurring or a local nuisance is resulting, it is not at all difficult to recognize the trouble. If the break-down has been sudden and due to a wash-out, a broken bed or wall or some other equally obvious cause, an expert is not needed to diagnose the case. But suppose the output of a plant or of some of its units is gradually falling below the requirements. In that case the gradual decline cannot be detected by observation and in order that one may know what is actually happening, tests are made….Careful attention paid to tank effluents will delay for years the expenditure of thousands of dollars for the removal, washing and replacing of the stone in contact beds. Poor effluents discharged upon sand beds cause clogging quickly, which results in undue expense for frequent cleaning and often the sand filter effluent is seriously impaired.

To the trained man in charge of a plant equipped with a laboratory, little advice is necessary. His training and facilities enable him to keep close check upon his charge; but for the good of the cause he is especially urged to do routine work along the standard lines and so record it that his results can be of use to others besides himself. His tests should conform to the requirements laid down in the ‘Standard Methods of Water Analysis,’ published by the American Public Health Association.”

Commentary: Of course, no mention is made the consequences of violating an NPDES permit or other regulation governing the quality of the effluent. Also, it gets tiresome to read these old articles that are directed to “men” when we now have a substantial number of women operators.

Main Street at Night, Racine, WI 1914.

Main Street at Night, Racine, WI 1914.

November 19, 1914Sanitary Policy for Racine. “The city of Racine, Wis., over a year ago employed John W. Alvord to recommend to it a policy to be followed in connection with its sewerage and water supply. The study of the problem, in which Mr. Alvord was assisted by Edward Bartow, director of the Illinois State Water Survey, occupied most of the year 1913, and a report has recently been made to the city giving the method and results of the investigation and the recommendations of the consulting engineer.

The report outlined six different policies, either of which might be pursued, but one of which was recommended….The problems at Racine are common to many lake cities which are similarly situated at the mouth of a river and which draw their water supplies from inlets in the lake.

Investigation disclosed that the water supply, which is drawn from the Jake, is threatened and occasionally polluted by the sewage from the city which is discharged into Root river, which in turn discharges in to the lake. Pollution was found to exist for about two and a half miles from the shore, although the distance is variable, depending upon the influence of winds, lake drift, the volume of flow in the river and the effect of severe storms.

The water filtration plant recommended is of the mechanical type designed to filter and sterilize at least six million gallons of lake water daily. The sewage collected by the intercepting sewer system would consist of the normal or dry weather flow, which would be raised by electric pumps and delivered to the disposal plant. For this plant it is recommended that an area of not less than twenty-five acres be purchased. The plant itself is recommended to consist essentially of screens, tanks, dosing contact beds and sprinkling filters, the first installation having a capacity of ten million gallons a day.”

Commentary: Racine found itself entangled in the Sewer Pipe, Water Pipe Death Spiral that I have described in my book The Chlorine Revolution to be published in the spring of 2013. Chicago found itself with the exact same problems and solved them in part by chlorinating their water supply to break the Death Spiral. It appears that Mr. Alvord recommended a vast change in the way Racine conducted the business of sanitation—build an intercepting sewer, a sewage disposal plant and a water filtration plant. I am in favor of Mr. Alvord’s multi-barrier approach to public health protection.

References: Daniels, Francis E. 1914. “Operation of Sewage Disposal Plants.” Municipal Journal. 38:21, November 19, 1914, 735.

“Sanitary Policy for Racine.” 1914. Municipal Journal. 38:21, November 19, 1914, 740.