The City of Dexter held an open house Thursday with tours to celebrate completion of its $5.5 million wastewater treatment plant improvement (WWTP).
“This is one of the most successful projects that I’ve been a part of,” said Dan Schlaff, the city’s superintendent of Public Services. “And I’ve been working with the city for 35 years.”
Major improvements in the design-build project include a new headworks building and tertiary filtration equipment. Process equipment within the headworks building removes large inorganic material to protect downstream equipment and reduces overall maintenance. The tertiary filters improve the treatment capabilities to meet more stringent effluent limits.
“It’s been an honor to work with the dedicated city staff through the design and construction of the project, and now to celebrate this milestone,” said David C. Harvey, P.E., F&V’s project manager. “The project addresses significant needs within the wastewater treatment plant.”
F&V provided design, bid, construction phase engineering, and FVC Construction – F&V’s sister company – provided construction management.
“This is a huge upgrade for our tertiary system and headworks,” Schlaff added. “Both were 1977 equipment that outlived their usefulness.
“The improvements increase the reliability of this system for all of our residents for the next 30 years.”
The WWTP facility was struggling to maintain an acceptable level of performance. Critical components of the wastewater treatment plant were on the verge of failure and there was a sense of urgency to expedite an improvement project.
The upgrades reduce the amount of grit entering the treatment process and the wear and tear on pumps and other equipment. They are also expected improve the digestion process.
“This project is one of the largest at the wastewater treatment plant and it ensures that our community will continue to have an effective and reliable treatment to serve our wastewater processing needs while protecting our essential natural resources – the Huron River,” said Courtney Nicholls, Dexter’s city manager. “These improvements set the city, residents and business owners up to meet or exceed water standards today and for years to come.”
Nicholls said the project removes the last of the process equipment put in place 42 years ago.
“The upgraded grit removal system has had an immediate impact on the plant by protecting all of the equipment from solids, which damage pumps and clog pipes,” Nicholls added. “The new tertiary filtration equipment allows us to further clarify the water before it is released into the Huron River.”
The WWTP, constructed in 1977, was converted to a conventional activated sludge plant in 2000. An equalization basin was constructed in 2009 to store high flows during wet weather events and, most recently, the anaerobic digestion process was upgraded for better biosolids treatment.
Schlaff said the key to the project’s success was collaboration between the city staff, council and engineering firm.
“When you have a project of this magnitude, there’s a lot of things that could go wrong,” Schlaff said. “It wasn’t easy because we had some things come up, but we were able to work through them as a team.
“I was impressed with the constant communication by everyone involved. It’s been a great project. It was done on time and on budget.”
Mayor Shawn Keough concurred.
“City staff worked hard to see the project through on time and on budget,” Keough said. “From bringing the concerns about the plant function to the City Council, to a thorough review of the plans throughout the design process, to assisting with questions during the construction phase.
“All of this was successfully achieved while also maintaining the day-to day operations of the plant.”
The improvements are being paid through a general obligation limited bond which is paid for with sewer rates.
The open house at the WWTP included donuts and cider and a tour of the improvements.