City’s Sewer Plant Plans based on Obsolete Century-Old Technology for $30 million
While the City of Dixon refuses to acknowledge twenty-first century treatment technologies for its alleged waste water treatment pollution problems, it appears the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no such qualms.
In a 93 page document dated October 13, 2014 addressing the use of ferrate treatment on municipal drinking water supplies, the EPA reported that “Utilization of ferrate results in environmental, human health, and cost benefits for combined use in the pre-disinfection and primary disinfection stages, since ferrate acts as both a coagulant and disinfectant and only small dosages are required for treatment.” (emphasis added)
Although the study was performed on drinking water, findings published on cleaning up Lake Apopka in Ontario, Florida and Orange Park, Florida confirm the removal of hazardous materials in a much higher capacity with the removal of well over half of heavy metals in solution processed with this method.
Boron, a primary focus of the State Water Board, was removed at the rate of 57%. Activated sludge – Dixon’s currently proposed solution – removes nothing but nitrates. That would leave the city open to additional mandates from the State Water Board (SWB) to address boron concentrations which are currently at the SWB’s established limits of 7 pats per million.
Another key argument made by the members of the Dixon city council – that the State Water board is forcing the city to use the antiquated activated sludge method – has been refuted in a letter to the Dixon Chapter of the Solano County Taxpayers Association dated June 16, 2006 when the city was considering the “band aid” solution of moving effluent 7 miles south of town at a cost of $40 million.
The letter signed by Pamela Creedon, executive director of the State Water Board, states “Please note that the Regional Board does not specify the manner of compliance; instead the specific items required by the C&D (sic) are those proposed by the City and its consultants …”
Ferrate is an iron oxide with the formula FeO4-2 and is considered to be a strong oxidizer of metals in solution as well as a coagulant which removes a variety of chemicals from water including boron, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides. In fact ferrate is so reactive that it must be manufactured on site in what is termed a “ferrator.”
The cost of the unit itself is $810,000 according to the EPA study – but this does not include the cost of construction or engineering, which has been estimated to bring the total cost of one unit to $1.35 million. That compares to the $30 million the city plans to spend on the obsolete activated sludge system.
The EPA study shows the ferrate system reduces usage of gaseous chlorine by 75%; decreases global warming potential by 7%; reduces smog formation by 10%, reduces energy demand 8% and fossil depletion by 4% – while reducing human health problems from non-cancer by 36% and cancer risks decreased by 11% respectively.
According to the report, “The EPA collected data from the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) Richard Miller Treatment Plant to develop a base case drinking water treatment (DWT) plant LCA model and cost analysis. The base case GCWW plant is a 106 million gallon per day (mgd) plant, which uses gaseous chlorine as the primary disinfectant.”
In comparison, Dixon’s current waste water flow is one percent of that – an estimated 1.2 mgd.
A further interesting finding confirms ferrate treatment as a rapidly evolving technology in both costs and efficiencies.
According to the study, “It is important to note that FTT (Ferrate Treatment Technologies) has reported to be continuing the optimization of its ferrate manufacturing equipment, thus reducing the associated equipment costs. Compared with the estimated costs in this study, a significantly lower cost may occur in the present and future, especially for large water treatment plants.”
The next scheduled Dixon city council meeting is this coming Tuesday, January 27. The Agenda is expected to include action on the citizen’s initiative to roll back sewer rates to de-fund the obsolete and archaic 100 year old technological solution of activated sludge. (the Activated Sludge process was developed in 1911.)
It will now be on the council’s back to determine for whose benefit they are working: a consultant who stands to make $3 million off old technology or the citizens who can see their rates decline significantly to something much more reasonable.
The question that begs to be answered is just how much new information about this evolving science must be put in front of this council for them to move into this century of scientific achievement rather than continuing to ride on early 1900’s buckboard technology?