Surfing’s In, Rags Out at this Southern California Treatment Plant

Nov. 3, 2004

It’s called the American Riviera. Santa Barbara is a crown jewel along California’s beautiful coast line, with lush rolling hills, luxury resorts, a historic Mission and spectacular sandy beaches. The city is a wonderful place to live or visit.

Keeping Santa Barbara clean is a tall order, and the folks at the city’s El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant take the job very seriously. With a growing population and strict California discharge requirements, managing the 8.5 million gallons per day (mgd) average flow takes a lot of resourcefulness.

Luckily Santa Barbara has Ruben Mislang, the plant’s technician supervisor. Mislang has worked on the plant for three decades and has put in place innovative treatment equipment, including helping JWC Environmental develop its Auger Monster® wastewater screen. Two are installed in the headworks of the facility.

As Santa Barbara grew in the 1990s and the plant expanded, Mislang considered various screening technologies to maintain high operational standards and meet strict new discharge regulations. He needed to get the unwanted solids out of the wastewater entering the plant while still maintaining a clean facility and managing fluctuating flows that can go as high as 20 mgd during rain storms. He was a big fan of southern California-based JWC, having used their Channel Monster® and Muffin Monster® grinders for years.

“In the early 1990s, the place we were dumping the sludge had some complaints about some trash. Regulators here, like the Water Resources Board, also developed regulations to remove floatables,” said Mislang. “I suggested to JWC people like Pete (Garcia) and Rod (Graham) they had better start thinking about something to recover the solids. The upgrading of the Channel Monster into the Auger Monster was starting here.”

About a dozen prototypes later Mislang got exactly what he wanted: a wastewater screen that reliably removed solids like rags, condoms, tampons and trash, in ground up form while also producing a clean, dry discharge that passed the paint filter test and was easy to dispose.

When wastewater professionals ask Ruben his thoughts on the Auger Monster, he says he always responds the same way: “What do you think? I have two of them!”

“The most important thing about the Auger Monster is it takes out the screenings,” Mislang said. “You would be amazed about how much rags you can take out. Let it go through and rags will be clogging your pumps, settling in your digester. The best point to catch trash is where it comes in and that’s what the Auger Monster is for.”

Since the installation of the Auger Monsters in 1997, there have not been any pump clogging incidents at the plant, according to Mislang. In addition, a troublesome centrifugal pump in the scum line that would clog on plastic trash build-ups now runs smoothly, saving him and his maintenance staff time, money and headaches.

The two Auger Monsters, model AMD6016, are located in the headworks building of the El Estero plant and are about 25 ft below grade level. The system consists of two parts that are lowered into the channel and bolted into place – the Channel Monster® grinder and the Auger lifting screw. The Channel Monster is a proven grinder technology that turns large solids into more manageable pieces and breaks up clumps so the washing cycle can remove more fecal material.

Two large screening drums rotate to allow tremendous flows of wastewater, up to 33 mgd for this model, while guiding all solids into the central grinding and screening zone. Solids pass through the grinder and into the screening trough where the shaftless auger captures and lifts solids out of the channel while washbars on either side of the trough flush fecal material through the screen and back into the plant flow for further processing. As solids are lifted to deck level for discharge they are dewatered. A new compaction zone is now available from JWC that further dewaters and compresses the screenings before they are discharged. Screens are available with 3, 6 or 8mm perforated openings.

Developing the Auger Monster was a labor of love for JWC engineers and a bit of an odyssey for Mislang. He first saw a rough mock-up of the Auger Monster in 1995 and made several suggestions on how to improve the design. This included shifting the discharge chute from the side to straight down to improve the flow of material. He also encouraged the use of a shaftless auger as the lifting screw to prevent material from wrapping around and binding the shaft, a common problem with old-time comminutors.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Santa Barbara over the years working with Ruben on products such as the Auger Monster,” said Rod Graham, JWC’s product support manager. “They have a great crew and have always been very helpful and pleasant to work with.”

“Actually, the current Auger Monster design came about partly because I gave ideas on developing it, and worked very closely with JWC engineers, and gave suggestions,” said Mislang.

In 1997, JWC was honored to receive the Water Environment Federation’s Innovative Technology Award for the Auger Monster’s unique design and operation. Over 600 systems have been installed in wastewater, correctional and industrial applications.

About the author: Fritz Egger is the director of marketing for JWC Environmental, Costa Mesa, Calif. He can be reached at 714/428-4610 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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