By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Despite all the rain, workers at Pepper’s Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment Authority have been able to manage flow into the plant without any violations to its discharge permit with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
Executive Director Clarke Wallcraft explained that wastewater treatment plant operators prefer steady flows into the plant in order to “accomplish optimum treatment.” That hasn’t been the case at the Fairlawn facility much of the time this year due to intermittent downpours that cause “huge spikes” in wastewater flowing into the plant.
In a report plant superintendent Mac McCutchan presented to the Authority’s board of directors, average flow for June was listed as 5.8 million gallons per day (MGD). A total of two inches of rain fell June 9-10, resulting in flows exceeding 8.5 MGD for those days.
Average flows through May have been between 4.5 and 4.9 MGD. However, a spring snow followed by temperatures in the mid 60s, resulted in plant flows averaging 10 MGD and peaking at 13 MGD April 5-6.
These spikes in flow can interrupt the treatment process and result in permit violations or system bypasses, but that hasn’t occurred at Pepper’s Ferry.
“We continue to manage the flows, even with the huge spikes that have occurred,” said Wallcraft. “The fact that we’ve had no violations continues to speak volumes to the professional manner in which the operators approach their duties.”