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Rockwood to address sewage plant violations

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By Cindy Simpson

Rockwood officials say they are  ready to move forward with meeting the requirements of a state order that came down last month regarding issues at the Rockwood wastewater treatment plant.

Those issues include illegal discharges and failing to turn in paperwork in a timely manner.

Engineer Mike MacIndoe of Fulghum MacIndoe & Associates met with the Rockwood Water, Sewer and Gas officials last Tuesday to discuss the next steps.

“You all were told back in August, there was a new director’s order that was coming to Rockwood that finally arrived in the middle of January,” MacIndoe said.

Within 90 days of receiving the order, the utility should submit a comprehensive corrective action plan and engineering report, he said.

The report should detail modifications to equipment and operations to meet the wastewater treatment plants permit.

He said  the corrrective action plan is due in April.

To deal with some of the issues, MacIndoe said, engineers would be looking at some of the processes at the plant, including moving to a biological process.

Within 45 days of approval of the corrective plan, the utility shall initiate actions under the plan.

All improvements in the plan should be completed by April 1, 2012.
MacIndoe said having the project completed by April 2012 concerned him.

“That is a very very challenging date to meet,” MacIndoe admitted.
However, he is confident if work shows progress the utility could get an extension.

“The language in the order is favorable about getting an extension,” he said.

He adds that the utility has a number of grant possibilities to cover a lot of the work.

The utility board discussed possible work that might be done at the wastewater treatment plant.  

While working to meet the order, MacIndoe said engineers would be looking at what improvements could be done if the utility’s permit, which expires this fall, becomes more stringent.

That could include moving the release point from Black Creek to Watts Bar Lake, which would be an expensive endeavor.

Many of the changes that may be necessary to meet the new order or future permit requirements, including going to a biological treatment process, could be costly.

Board members are concerned about making such massive improvements if the city decides to get out of the sewer business.

There have been discussions of possibly having the county take over Rockwood’s sewer system.

In addition to what needs to be done to meet the order, MacIndoe talked about ongoing projects, including a sewer pump station replacement program.

MacIndoe said the contract has been signed, and the next step is to go ahead and order drawings and start the process of getting the pump stations fabricated.

Work would likely begin this summer.

“We can start sequencing them and just sort of do one right after the other,” MacIndoe said.

Also in the works for the future is the replacement of high-service pumps at the water treatment plant.