NORTHFIELD, Mass. – When Easthampton, Mass. was in danger of violating the suspended solids portion of their wastewater discharge permit, the community contacted the Mass Rural Water Association for assistance.
David Kaczenski, a wastewater specialist with MassRWA, started examining the system’s aerations tanks, settling tanks and pumps.
“It seemed the aeration tanks were not getting enough bacteria returned to them to create good effluent,” Kaczenski said.
Kaczenski and Mike Pierce, the utility’s system operations specialist, examined the pumps and reviewed the electronic charts.
“The charts showed that the pumps were working properly and rate was sufficient,” Kaczenski said.
He then examined the actual flow of the pumps. After calculating the flow of the return pumps, he learned that the electrical controls were not operating correctly. Without proper flow, the tanks were starved of the bacteria needed to digest the sewage and keep the system in compliance with its permit.
“I recommended that pumps be set manually to a flow rate that was necessary to create a happy environment in the aeration basin,” Kaczenski said.
After five days, the treatment had improved and the suspended solids were no longer exiting the plant. The assistance helped the system avoid possible fines of $5,000 per day.
“We have to remember that electronics are convenient, but we have to double check them frequently,” Kaczenski said.