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First Utility District looks for new manager


First Utility District of Knox County interim manager Wayne Watson took over the helm of the district when longtime manager Ralph McCarter retired in March, and has a couple of multi-million dollar projects that keep him on his toes.

Watson said a search is currently being undertaken for a full-time manager for the First Utility District.

“I know the board is looking, but I can’t say to what degree,” he said. Zola Turley, president of the board of commissioners for First Utility District, was unavailable for comment on the extent of the search and possible candidates.

Watson said one of the position on the board of commissioners for the First Utility District currently held by David Kubeja is up for reappointment this term.

“The process is that we will submit three or four names to the county for appointment to this position,” Watson said. “County officials will then choose an appointment to the board.”

He said the expectation is that Kubeja will be reappointed to the position.

Others on the board include Turley and Richard Maples.

Meanwhile, FUD is in the midst of an $18 million expansion of its water treatment plant off Canton Hollow Road and in the design phase of a $15 million expansion of its wastewater treatment facility off Concord Road.

“Construction is currently underway to expand the water treatment plant from twenty-one million gallons to thirty-four million per day,” Watson said. “Construction is expected to be completed next summer.”

Watson said customers shouldn’t expect to see a rate increase. The last rate increase issued by FUD was designed to provide funding for the expansion.

Ken Bryson of Jordan, Jones and Goulding serves as the engineer for the water treatment plant expansion. He said the expansion includes two new floc basins, two sedimentation basins, a new filter building with four filters, a new clearwell and a new sodium hypochlorite storage area.

“When water is brought in, it has tiny microscopic organisms in it, each having a small electromagnetic charge,” Bryson said. “In the flocculation basins, we add a lot of power-activated carbon to eliminate that charge and help these organisms group together. That’s called floc.”

The water at this point has an opaque color with large amounts of carbon, resembling a large sludge pit.

The water then passes through a set of filters into the sedimentation basis. Layers in the bottom of the basins help filter out the floc material. Then the water goes through a set of filters.

Troy Wedekind, an engineer with First Utility District, said on the bottom of the filters is a layer of anthracite coal and a layer of sand. These serve to filter out the smaller particles that may remain in the water.

The water is then transferred to a clearwell tank, which holds up to 2 million gallons of water. Chemicals are added, such as chlorine and fluoride, and then the water goes out to homes and businesses in the community.

Bryson said the original water plant was built in the 1960s and some of the equipment needed to be updated and expanded.

Watson said the wastewater treatment facility is in the design process of expanding its facility. Phase 1 of the process includes two proposed clarifiers and a proposed oxidation ditch.

“We’re also proposing to enclose several of the sites in order to reduce odors,” Watson said.

He referred to two large screws that are used to elevate the raw sewage to a high point so it would gravity feed throughout the rest of the facility.

“We have a device that filters the solid material out and dumps it into a bin,” Watson said.

The material then goes through another process that removes all the grease and grit from it before traveling to an oxidation ditch.

Watson said in an oxidation ditch, the material receives aerobic bacteria designed to consume the material in the sewage.

The wastewater then goes through a clarifier, where remaining sediment drops to the bottom of the holding vat. Chemicals are added to kill any harmful bacteria prior to the water being released back into local waterways.

“We do testing of the water every day to make sure we are within T-D-E-C requirements,” Watson said.

One of the common complaints Watson said he hears is about why they would place a water treatment plant in a certain location or why a wastewater treatment plant in a certain spot.

“We had these locations long ago,” he said. “The community just grew up around us.”

 

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