Phosphorous causes many water quality problems including decreased recreational and conservation value of impoundments and possible lethal effects of algal toxins to livestock and drinking water.
Purification costs will increase with the use of more chemicals to remove the phosphorous, Carlstedt said.
The chemical process is projected to double the amount of sludge by-product the Wilmore treatment plant will produce, which also increases the cost of its removal from the 500,000-gallon tank.
Currently, the plant’s tank is at capacity and an outside contractor comes in every three to four months to elevate some but not all of the tank’s contents. What Carlstedt is proposing is the purchase of a belt-filter press.
The press turns the sludge into a “cake” that can be used for fertilizer on farms. The purchase of the press would be significant, he said; however, the city of Wilmore would save in the long run by offsetting the cost of using an outside contractor with a mobile press.
“This is very much the norm,” said Bob Smallwood, project engineer for GRW, which has been working with Wilmore on the waste-management plans. “I went all around Kentucky, and all your neighbors have a press already. You may be the only city in Kentucky that doesn’t — Nicholasville, Lexington, Lawrenceburg, Georgetown, Midway, Winchester, et cetera.”
The purchase of the press is not the only significant cost of the expansion. The city does not own the land where the sludge-handling facility is planned to be built. The property is owned by farmer David “Shea” Rhorer with an estimated appraisal of $80,000. Carlstedt also needs to initiate a “request for qualifications” process to select an engineering firm to design the project. And finally, he needs to begin the Community Development Block Grant application process to pursue possible funding. Wilmore City Council has approved the department’s request to move forward and return with a completed proposal.
The sludge-handling project is just a part of a much bigger $10 million plan to create a 2-million-gallons-a-day plant, which was the original proposal by Carlstedt in 2004. The proposed sludge-handling facility would be built in a way to accommodate further expansion.
“We had a glorious decade between 1997-07 where the city was growing tremendously,” he said. “Around 2008, our growth in the community started to flatline, and what we know now is that our treatment water capacity is fine for a community that’s not growing very much, so we don’t need a facility plant that can handle 2 million gallons of wastewater quantity — yet.”