Hartselle Utilities’ Wastewater Treatment Plant has begun a new project to reuse treated water in the plant’s operations.
Wastewater from throughout Hartselle is treated at the plant to meet federal and state standards. The treated wastewater is then released into Shoal Creek, which is part of the Flint River watershed. The Wastewater Treatment Plant is designed to treat 2.7 million gallons of water a day from homes, businesses and industries from the City of Hartselle; it currently discharges about 2 million gallons each day into the creek.
The plant’s chlorine feed and headworks use about 800,000 gallons of water per month. Currently, the plant purchases potable water from Decatur Utilities. Potable water is generally defined as drinking water safe enough to be consumed by humans or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm.
According to Hartselle Utilities Engineering Services Manager Glen Partlow, water used within the plant’s systems doesn’t need to meet drinking water standards, and can safely be reused from the plant’s discharge flow.
“We’ve seen rate increases from Decatur Utilities for the last three years,” explains Hartselle Utilities General Manager Bob Sittason. “By reusing the water within our own system, we will no longer have to purchase this water and save an estimated $26,000.00 per year.”
Last July, the Hartselle Utilities Board approved a plan to build the infrastructure to allow this water to be redirected from within the plant, reducing its dependence on purchased potable water.
The project will cost approximately $90,000, and Partlow expects to recover that cost within three and a half years, possibly sooner. “We were able to utilize some existing piping and buildings to save on costs,” he explains. WWTP staff will paint the reuse pipes purple, a common practice for identifying recycled water.
Major components of the WWTP, Partlow says, will keep a potable water backup system, with backflow preventions built in. “We always want to keep our potable water source in place, just in case,” he says.