Everyone in Jacksonville seems to be having a reasonable experience with the new water plant off Hardin, and now the engineers at Benton and Associates will be planning improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant at 1145 North Main Street as IL 78 extends past Walnut.
Benton and Associates Engineer Cameron Jones gave a presentation during the workshop session of the most recent city council meeting to discuss the current status of the plant. Jones also explained the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s newest initiative to improve local waterways and the health of marine life. The EPA wants to lower the nation’s phosphorus levels in small creeks and rivers to prevent the growth of algae. According to Jones, algae loves phosphorus, but it also absorbs oxygen in the water, which is bad for fish.
Jones goes over the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits that regulates a city's collection systems.
"The new permit that they will be getting out in public notice soon includes some new phosphorus potential limits in the next fourteen years. The changes to the discharge limits can affect how they do their process at the treatment plant. Included in that permit, there are also two different reports related to phosphorus that they will have to complete.”
Jones describes these two reports.
"Discharge optimization plan, where they go out and look at their whole system and figure out if there are any significant phosphorus contributors that give them phosphorus in their wastewater and see if there are ways to reduce that at those locations. Also, they'll be looking at the plant to optimize the existing treatment plant to treat for phosphorus.
"The other plan is a phosphorus feasibility study, which looks at the moves toward phosphorus limits of 1 milligram per liter, 0.5 milligrams per liter, and 0.1 milligrams per liter. It's essentially three studies tied into one plan, and we and city officials are trying to figure out how much it's going to cost to be able to meet each of these limits."
Now that the water treatment plant has been officially completed, Jones discusses why the time is now to begin the planning of renovations to the sewer treatment plant.
"The city has some aging infrastructure at the treatment plant that they were already looking at replacing or doing some upgrades on based on their age. Benton and Associates has wrapped all of that into one big report as a facility plan which will address those two required plans, optimization and feasibility, and a complete look at the treatment plant and the overall outlook for the next twenty years."
Benton and Associates were granted $180,000 from the city's Waterworks and Sewerage Projects Fund to begin plans for changes to Jacksonville's wastewater treatment facilities. Jones says that the plan will be set by next year, and the local levels of phosphorus in creeks and such will meet new EPA guidelines by the year 2030.