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The City of Salmon’s newly upgraded Wastewater Treatment Plant has been in operation for a couple of months. Those responsible for the mammoth project gathered Thursday, June 12, for an official Ribbon Cutting ceremony.

Mayor Leo Marshall welcomed the special guests in attendance and thanked past officials who paved the way for the project. Among those mentioned were Mayors Stan Davis and John Miller as well as former City Administrator George Ambrose along with all the council members and city staff from the past 13 years. Marshall and Council President Jim Baker are the only ones who were on the council when wastewater treatment needs first surfaced.

Skyler Allen of Keller Associates told those gathered for the ribbon cutting that it was great to see all the elements come together in a successful project. He said the project’s history beginning with the first Citizen Advisory Committee all the way to project completion has resulted in a well designed system built for the city of Salmon to meet today’s needs and accept any future changes needed. His thanks went to; the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Idaho Department of Commerce for funding support, Rick Miller of East Central Idaho Planning and Development Association (ECIPDA) for administration of the funds and Dick Anderson Construction for the a great job. He especially thanked City Clerk Mary Benton, City Finance Director Amy Fealko and people-greeter Utility Clerk Shawnda Adams for always helping him find whatever information he needed.

Allen then gave a step by step overview of the system and how it works. He said Keller Associates looks forward to a continued relationship with the city.

DEQ Engineering Manager Greg Eager recalled a 2001 meeting with Jim Johnston and Mayor Davis which started the ball rolling. He said the project has been an example of a great partnership between the DEQ, the Department of Commerce and the City of Salmon. He said he is proud of the environmental and public health improvements the project has made.

ECIPDA representative Rick Miller said the Idaho Department of Commerce is very pleased with how the work was conducted from inception to close-out. He called it a picture perfect project that made great use of DEQ and Block Grant funds working together to help the community. He said, “It’s been a great pleasure.”

Rick Wickum spoke on behalf of Dick Anderson Construction and said what few issues there were, were worked out with the company, Keller and the city. He said the people here have been great and he’s looking forward to a trip to the area that doesn’t involve work.

City Public Works Supervisor Harry Shanafelt said that in the 38 years he has worked for the city he’s never seen a better construction company than Dick Anderson Construction. Councilman Fred Waidely, who acted as project liaison between the city and project leaders, echoed Shanafelt’s respect for Dick Anderson and added praise for Keller Associates. He said the project was completed pretty much on time and within budget. He added there were no cost overruns and the only change orders had to do with problems encountered during subsurface work that could not have been known in advance.

Councilman Jim Bockelman referred to the lack of ‘fragrance’ at the plant as being the smell of success. Councilman Russ Chinske said as a river enthusiast and fisheries fan he is very appreciative and so proud of the city for its efforts toward taking care of the cleanup work that had to be done.

Discussions related to the mandated upgrades began in 2001. In 2005 the federal government notified the city it was out of compliance with EPA wastewater discharge standards.

Over the years, the entire system has been upgraded from repairs to delivery system lines, which began in 2008, to every aspect of what happens to the wastewater once it reaches the treatment facility. Keller Associates, Inc. had been working with the city since 2008 and was hired in early 2011 to engineer the upgrades to the plant itself. In October of 2011 ECIPDA was hired to do the paperwork required to apply for an Idaho Department of Commerce $500,000 Block Grant and was later chosen to administer the grant. That same year the DEQ agreed to a 20-year, zero percent interest loan of $3.5 million.

Results of the funding can be seen in the “Headworks” Building which houses a series of screens and meters to monitor inflow levels. It also has a washer/compactor that washes, compacts and dries the screened non-organic debris before allowing the effluent to proceed to the lagoons.

New floating aerators have been added to the lagoons. The units are more energy efficient than the old ones as well as more biologically efficient. Better conditions in the lagoons improve the overall efficiency of the entire treatment system. The newly constructed Filters Building contains a continuous backwash sand filtration system to remove any remaining particulates. From there the filtered water passes through an underground tunnel of ultraviolet lights to complete the disinfection process and is discharged to a riverbed outlet in the middle of the river.

The treatment facility can process up to three million gallons of wastewater per day. Prior to the upgrades the facility could only remove 84 percent of the Total Suspended Solids (TSS). Environmental Protection Agency-National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems permits require that 85 percent be removed. Pre-upgrade levels of Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) were at 87 percent. BOD refers to the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in order to break down organic material. Permit standards call for 85 percent.

As of last May, the BOD reading was at 95 percent and the TSS registered 97 percent.

All the system components are monitored by a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system which also provides enhanced data collection. The Headworks and Filters buildings each have backup generators in case of electrical power interruptions.

The cost of bringing the plant up to and beyond regulatory standards was $3.8 million. The result is a discharge into the river that is cleaner than river water and is said to be safe to drink although, fragrance free or not, no one has been able to quite accept that challenge.

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