Over the next several budget years, the city of Maryville will likely be allocating investment funds nearing $10 million to maintain the award-winning Maryville Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Some upgrade costs will be split with the city of Alcoa, since its residents also benefit from the treatment facility.
The prized product of the plant, the mulch-like soil made from biosolids, constantly undergoes experiments to find the best mixture of wood chips and sediment separated during the wastewater cleansing process. During a recent Maryville City Council work session, Public Utilities Director Baron Swafford proposed duplicating the physical facilities that are used for mixing the biosolids and wood chips to create more room for storage.
To use in gardens or flowerbeds, the biosolids are layered with wood chips and split into large rows. A large machine rotates the mixture until it has held at the right temperature for the right amount of time. The mixture is dumped under a shelter and stored until businesses or anyone from the public takes loads of it with them.
If the final mixture gets wet before it’s poured into a designated spot, it’s essentially unusable, Swafford explained. And a lot of what is created has to be spread on the treatment facility’s large property to make room for more of the end product to be sheltered. He proposed that the city fund another shelter, concrete pad and rotating machine for the wood chips and biosolids.
Although unable to compost from November to May, the city saves money by not paying the landfill to dispose of the sediment separated from the wastewater year-round. Treatment Plant Superintendent Chris Hamrick said in a previous conversation with The Daily Times that moisture contained in disposed product drives up the price to pass the product to the landfill.
Waste — mostly paper products — that is screened from sewage water during the first cleansing step is rung out and sent to the landfill, but all other sediment that is removed during the process is churned into the soil-like product.
Swafford said his department will be looking for grants to help cover the cost of expanding the compost facilities.
The wastewater facility focuses on two end goals: creating a biosolids mixture usable for the public and sending water back into the receiving stream much cleaner than it came into the facilities.
In addition to Swafford’s proposal for the biosolids side of operations, he gave an update on the implementation of an ultraviolet system for the water side of operations that is replacing the current chlorine gas system.
“Chlorine brings a whole book full of regulations with it,” Swafford said. “You use chlorine on your pool, that’s a different animal.”
Cleansing with chlorine is the last step of treatment before water is returned to the receiving stream, but UV systems are what most plants are switching to now, Swafford explained. It is safer and takes less exposure time to be released back into nature. The plant hasn’t had an issue with the chlorine system since it has been in place, but switching eliminates the “what-if.”
Several other updates for water utilities were proposed to stretch through the next several budgets, including installing a 2 million gallon concrete tank reserve on Greenwood hill and replacing one, large underground pipe into multiple, smaller pipes to transport large amounts of water into the receiving stream.
Parks & infrastructure
City Manager Greg McClain has reiterated in conversations with The Daily Times that Maryville is prioritizing older investments that needed attention — mainly city parks and roadways.
During the September Maryville Planning Commission meeting, City Engineer Kevin Stoltenberg presented all the projects the city has recently completed, nearly completed and plans to complete soon.
Projects include roadway, landscaping, city park, recycling center and greenway trail improvements. One project, the Harper Avenue bridge repair, is finished. But the city is waiting on the Tennessee Department of Transportation to inspect it and rate how large of a vehicle can cross the bridge.
At the current fiscal year’s budget proposal and again during the recent work session, McClain said it is frustrating to see hard-worked budgets and built balances being eaten away by the inflated economy.
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