A recently completed wastewater screening facility in Wellsville is part of an effort to extend the life of the city’s sewer lagoons.
“We make an investment for today and it allows us to have the sewer lagoons for that much longer, because we won’t have the garbage in the sewer lagoons,” said Scott Wells, the Wellsville city manager.
Located to the north of the Wellsville sewer lagoons, the new building is gray, has a red-and-white tin roof and resembles a barn in an attempt to help it match the surrounding area.
The purpose of this facility is to screen out non-biodegradable material that gets put into the sewer system, such as plastics or flushable wipes.
“Flushable wipes really don’t break down the same way as toilet paper does,” Wells said. “So the need for a screen machine just like this is to capture material and throw it away in a landfill versus having it take up space in our sewer lagoon, which is precious space for breaking down the sewer.”
According to Kraig Johnson, the chief technology officer at Keviva Water Technologies, it costs about $20 a ton to take the garbage that is screened out of the sewer lagoons to a landfill. In contrast, it can cost up to $2,000 a ton to clean garbage out of the sediment of the sewer lagoons, he said.
Johnson’s company engineered and developed the screen that Wellsville purchased. According to Johnson, the screen uses a rotating belt system, rather than bar screens or rotating drums. Johnson said the rotating belt system is less common and stops material larger than a pencil eraser from going into the lagoons.
A screening facility like this is the first step in any wastewater treatment facility, Johnson said. According to Wells, the city plans to continue using the lagoons as long as possible, however, if in the future they decide to change to a full-on treatment facility the water screening system will still be relevant.
“We are hoping to avoid a treatment plant as long as we can, but who knows what the growth of Wellsville is going to do in the future and when we are going to have to look at other options,” Wells said.