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First Utility District unveils newest sewage treatment phase

First Utility District has completed construction on the newest phase of its Turkey Creek sewage treatment plant.

The plant cleans 7 million gallons of water a day, which amounts to 2.5 billion gallons a year.

“Because we’re here, that’s 7 or 8 million gallons of sewage a day that isn’t being dumped in the lake,” Wayne Watson, FUD assistant manager, pictured above left, said.

“This is a natural process,” chief plant operator Ronnie Davis, pictured above right, said, adding the only chemical FUD uses in the process is liquid bleach, instead of commonly-used chlorine.

The sewage is pumped into the plant, then goes through a variety of processes that remove solids, grit and grease and then adds oxygen, bacteria (to clean the sewage) and finally the bleach.

Debris is sent to the landfill; the water is then cleaned, clarified and oxygenated. The resulting water, Watson said, is cleaner than the water in Loudoun Lake.

“This is not drinking water [but] it has greater clarity, more oxygen and less bacteria than in the lake,” Watson said.

“We don’t put anything in this cove; it all goes back to the main Tennessee River channel,” Davis said.

“You would not want to put 7 or 8 million gallons of water a day back into this cove … by putting it in the main Tennessee River channel, you’ve got a lot more volume,” he added.

Bio-solids created as a by-product of the treatment system are sent to the landfill, although Davis said FUD plans in the future to install a drying device so the bio-solids could be used as low-grade fertilizer.

Watson said FUD has worked hard to keep a low profile in a residential area.

“People ask why we built this plant in the middle of a suburban area, but we didn’t. We built the plant and it grew up around us,” Watson said.

“Now we’re trying to be as good a neighbor as we can,” he added.

The Utility screens vapors off the raw sewage and “scrubs” them to eliminate odor, and has planted trees and created a berm around the plant to keep the equipment out of line-of-sight.

The new construction cost about $20 million, and should be completely finished in October. The Turkey Creek Treatment Plant has been in operation since 1995.

FUD also has upgraded to a SCADA computer system, which allows real-time monitoring of not only the treatment plant but of all of the FUD system’s pumps and sub-stations.

“We know the levels of every water tank out there,” Watson said.

FUD also is conducting work in Village Green on a sewer pipe “rehab” project. The project, which could cost about $2 million, involves lining the current sewer pipes with plastic, to cover cracks and leaks.

“We’re not digging a lot,” Watson said. About 7 miles of pipe in Village Green will be “rehabbed.”

First Utility District also recently earned an “AA+” rating from Standard and Poor, to FUD’s 2009 water and sewer revenue and improvement bonds. FUD issued $29.7 million in bond payable over 20 years, with an average interest rate of 3.86 percent. FUD also refunded $9.5 million in bonds issued in 1997 and 2003 with higher interest rates.

First Utility services wastewater from the Loudon County line to the Knoxville city limit, about 65 square miles.


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