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At more than a half-century old, the City of Lebanon (Pa.) Authority (COLA) WWTP was in dire need of upgrades. Nutrient loads into the Chesapeake Bay were too high, the water quality in the watershed was diminishing and the old plant could not keep up with the area’s population growth.
With the help of Gannett Fleming, the firm tasked with designing the COLA expansion, the plant added 10 million gal per day to its hydraulic capacity—a 50% increase. It also replaced its 1960s electrical equipment during a conversion to 480V, which also resulted in construction of a power control building housing a 2,500-kW generator. Prior to the upgrade, the electrical switchgear was located outdoors.
As with any major upgrades to a dated facility, equipment installation and training present difficulties—including some unforeseen challenges.
“When construction started, Hurricane Lee hit us with 18 in. of rain over two days, flooded the facility and took out facility processing pump stations,” said Fank DiScuillo Jr., wastewater systems director for COLA. “Thanks to long hours by staff, the construction electrical contractor and the construction general contractor, we were back in NPDES permit compliance within a couple of weeks.”
During construction, staff also kept the plant running. Slogging through mud, workers manually fed chemicals into the system for treatment and maintained operations to ensure safe treatment of wastewater.
The upgrades resulted in considerable improvements in efficiency with better connectivity and monitoring of systems. DiScuillo said the drastic changes made him proud.
“From the SCADA system that allows us to observe and control the entire facility from a remote location to the reuse of the methane gas that fuels the hot oil heater to produce an exceptional quality class A biosolid,” DiScuillo said. “These biosolids are then given to local farmers as well as our local landfill for a soil remediation project on a closed part of the landfill.”
All these small things add up. Finances were improved while also keeping service costs low, saving Lebanon County residents money. The efficiencies also helped the plant meet nitrogen and phosphorus standards for Chesapeake Bay, giving it the option to sell nutrient credits.
“Today, the staff is able to operate a first-class facility that will serve the city of Lebanon and surrounding municipalities well into the future,” DiScuillo said.