After more than four months of work moving earth, installing rebar and pouring concrete, the $35 million expansion of Brainerd's wastewater treatment facility is beginning to take shape.
The walls were up Thursday on three of the four sequencing batch reactor tanks and two digesters - the equipment that breaks down waste - and the hope is that everything will be closed in by the end of the year, said Brainerd Public Utilities Superintendent Tom Phelps.
"What we're doing is trying to get it enclosed for winter so we don't have to heat everything," Phelps said.
Dan Caron, field inspector for Barr/BDM engineering firm, said the precast roof will take a month to six weeks to complete.
Brainerd Public Utilities Superintendent Tom Phelps explained the construction process of the wastewater treatment facility expansion project. Construction is expected to be mostly completed this winter and equipment will be installed next year. The plant will be operation in 2011.
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Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
The plant will be entirely enclosed and filters will be in place to remove odor. The utility also is building a sludge tank and using dirt excavated from the project to put in buffers along the property lines.
In all, the construction takes up more than an acre of land. The project is on schedule and on budget, Phelps said. The new plant should be operation in the summer of 2011.
"It's really surprising. It looks different and it's coming along really well," Phelps said.
Construction crews will be installing equipment through 2010 and the new facility, which will offer Brainerd and Baxter an increase in wastewater capacity from 3.6 million gallons per day to 6 million gallons per day. The plant could be expended to handle 7.2 million gallons per day if needed.
The expansion and upgrade is needed for three reasons. The current facility was designed with a 20-year life span but is currently in its 28th year of operation; new technology is needed to better treat wastewater being discharged into the Mississippi River; and both Brainerd and Baxter, which contracts with Brainerd for wastewater services and will pay for a third of the expansion costs, want more capacity for growth.
An aerial photo of Brainerd Public Utilities' wastewater treatment plant expansion project shows the scope of the work.
It has not been a simple road to getting the project started. The process of receiving a permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was delayed in 2007 after elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonates were found in the current facility; there have been several contract negotiation meetings with Baxter and plans and specifications needed to be completed.
"I figure I'll have eight years in this when I get done. It started right when I did," Phelps said. "But it took them that long last time anyway."
Brainerd and Baxter, which has been allocated about a third of the cost, are using the sales of bonds and local sales tax proceeds to pay for the project. Brainerd Public Utilities also received a discount on interest rates through the federal stimulus program that will save about $2 million on the project.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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