When town officials, corporate leaders and friends of the environment along with owner/operator hosts from Sheaffer International snipped the ribbon to begin operation of the new facility, they began a paradigm shift in wastewater treatment.
An Illinois engineering firm has pioneered an alternative method of wastewater treatment which manages effluent as a valuable resource rather than something to be discharged into a nearby river or lake.
They also replaced four conventional discharge systems with one designed to reclaim and reuse; rid their communities of offensive odors from wastewater treatment; discontinued a process which released more than 200,000 pounds of nutrients into the North Fork of Shenandoah River, (source of their drinking water and recreation as well as a major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay); started saving money; began providing free nutrient rich, environmentally safe water for irrigation to local farmers; and essentially eliminated sludge.
William Gaidos, president of the Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah, a northern Virginia organization dedicated to improving
and preserving the river, explains the benefits:
"The big beneficiaries are the North Fork of the Shenandoah, the Potomac River (which it empties into) and eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. While the vast majority of reclaimed water will be recycled for irrigation, some will be used by one of the poultry processors at their plant for non-potable uses such as washing parking lots. In addition, in times of drought, the Commonwealth of Virginia has requested that Sheaffer use some of the water to enhance the flow of the river. Any reclaimed water that does go into the river will be far cleaner than water from the current systems," Gaidos said.
"The success story starts with the public/private partnership of what is usually a municipal or corporate function – the treatment of wastewater,"
In this case Sheaffer International will operate the facility under contract for a minimum of 25 years. Rather than face the cost of building and maintaining new treatment plants to comply with state and federal clean water regulations, the towns will only have to maintain their collection systems and pay a service fee based on their usage of the Sheaffer system.
The two industrial users of the system, poultry processors WLR Foods (Wampler Foods) and Rocco/Shadybrook (Rocco), will pay a service fee based on the strength and volume of their wastewater. Together the two plants employ more than 1,300 people, by far the largest source of jobs in the area.
SOURCE: PR Newswire