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United Water

Utility Administrative Office
210 Harbor Drive
Alpena, Michigan 49707

Hours of Operation:
Monday through Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Phone: (989) 354-1400
Fax: (989) 354-8472
Email: mikeg@alpena.mi.us

The City of Alpena Water/Wastewater Utility has been operated under contract since July 1, 1988. United Water, the contract operator of the system, is responsible for providing all services related to the delivery of water and wastewater services to City residents.

The primary goal of the department is to provide quality service to its customers while complying with all state and federal regulatory requirements. The department strives to provide exceptional service at cost-competitive rates. The following list summarizes the services provided by the department: The operation of the water and wastewater treatment plants, water distribution system, wastewater collection system, water meter reading, and utility billing. Storm sewer reactive and preventive maintenance is also performed.

Department Personnel

Mike Glowinski
Utilities Manager
(989) 354-1401

Terry Gougeon
Plant Manager
Water Filtration Plant
(989) 356-0757

Bob Hilla
Operations Supervisor
Water Recycling Plant
(989) 354-1402

Raymond Speaks
Wastewater Collection and Water Distribution System Supervisor

Utility Billing Office
(989) 354-1400

Water Filtration Plant
(989) 356-0757

Water Recycling Plant
(989) 354-1400

Water Filtration Plant

Water Filtration Plant

Terry Gougeon
Plant Manager
Water Filtration Plant
1300 State Avenue
Alpena, Michigan 49707

Phone: (989) 356-0757
Fax: (989) 356-5862
Email: terry.gougeon@unitedwater.com

History

In 1922 construction began on a 3.0 Million Gallons Per Day (MGD) treatment facility. The project included two sedimentation basins, four rapid sand filters, and a 500,000 gallon finished water clear well. In 1935 an additional 500,000 gallon clear well was constructed. There were two major additions to the plant; the first occured in 1953 when the steam pumping plant was upgraded to an electric high service pumping station. The Ninth Street elevated storage tank was also erected at this time. This tower has a capacity of 750,000 gallons. The second plant expansion occured in 1965. Plant capacity increaded from 3.0 MGD to 5.25 MGD, with the addition of three filters, new mixing and flocxculation basin, additional sedimentation basin, new low service pumping building, as well as new chemical feed equipment. In 1972 the City added further elevated storage with the placing of the North Industrial tank. Water service to Alpena Township began with the construction of the Piper Road tank in 1977 and the M-32 tank in 1978. New chemical feed building, storage garage, and housing for the new standby generator took place in 1999. The most recent changes to the system include the US-23 South elevated storage for the Township in 2006 and the sedimentation sludge removal equipment at the plant in 2007. At present, the plant capacity is six million gallons per day. Plans to increase capacity to eight million gallons per day are in the near future.

Treatment

The water plant is a conventional treatment facility. This refers to the processes of coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration used to treat the water entering the plant. At an average rate of demand it can take up to twelve hours to complete the treatment course. A number of chemicals are required to ensure the safety and clarity of the drinking water. These include Aluminum Sulfate, Sodium Hypochlorite, Phosphate, and polymers. Fluoride is also added as a health benefit in the prevention of dental cavities. Many tests are conducted to monitor chemical usage and to assure the bateriological security of the drinking water.

Average Daily Production

The yearly average daily production is 2.1 million gallons per day (MGD). The plant is capable of producing 5 MGD and has sufficient remaining capacity to meet the needs of the City and Township well into the future.

Auxiliary Power

One 750 KVA diesel powered generator is available to operate the water plant in the event of a power interrruption or loss. The generator is fully automated to start up when a power loss is detected and to shut down when power is restored.

Water Source

Thunder Bay, Lake Huron is our source of water. The intake line is 2,000 feet in length and 40-inches in diameter. A 30-inch polyethylene liner was inserted in 1977. There are two openings anchored by rock and timber cribs, located at 1,000 feet and at the end at 2,000 feet. The rated capacity of the intake pipe is 8 million gallons per day. Control of zebra mussel colonization with in the intake is accomplished by chemical addition.

Low Service Pump Station

Four vertical lift pumps deliver lake water from a shore well to the treatment plant at the rapid mix chamber. Total low service capacity is 13 million gallons per day.

Laboratory

Our laboratory is certified by the State of Michigan to test for total coliform, fecal coliform, or Ecoli bacteria. These are the primary indicator organisms for water quality, both for drinking and swimming/recreation. The plant also tests for chlorine (disinfectant), pH, hardness, alkalinity, turbidity, color, and fluoride on a daily basis. The State Drinking Water Laboratory also tests our water for numerous contaminants as required.

Treated Water Storage

  • 1 million gallons in ground storage at the water plant
  • 750,000 gallons at the Ninth Avenue elevated tower
  • 750,000 gallons at the North Industrial elevated tower.
  • 500,000 gallons at the Alpena Township M-32 elevated tower and Piper Road elevated tower
  • 300,000 gallons at the Alpena Township US-23 South elevated tower
Water Recycling Plant

Water Recycling Plant

210 Harbor Drive
Alpena, Michigan 49707

Phone: (989) 354-1400
Fax: (989) 354-8472
Email:mikeg@alpena.mi.us

History

The original plant became operational in 1953 and many of the treatment units remain in use today. The first treatment equipment consisted of a pump station, flow meters, four clarifiers to physically remove solid materials from the waste stream, and two sludge pumps. Two Anaerobic Digesters (Primary and Secondary) were used to biologically reduce the organics in the solids that are removed as part of the treatment process.  Sludge drying beds were used to dewater and dry treatment residuals. The final treatment process involved the addition of chlorine gas to kill pathogenic organisms before the treated wastewater was discharged to the Thunder Bay River. The plant removed about 15 to 20% of the pollutants that entered the facility.

In 1972, the plant was upgraded to improve pollutant removal capability. Using grant funds from the USEPA, secondary treatment was added to the facility. A biological treatment process called Activated Sludge was used to enhance removal of dissolved pollutants from the wastewater. This addition improved pollutant removal rates and the plant regularly achieves 90 to 95% pollutant removal efficiency.

Water Recycling Process

Preliminary Treatment

This part of the plant accomplishes the removal of screenings and grit from the raw wastewater. A screen positioned perpendicular to the flow captures rags, plastics, sticks, and debris that could plug up pumps and sludge collectors. A cutting bar moves across the screen and chops up the collected material into small pieces that will not clog downstream treatment equipment. This debris cutter is called the comminutor.

A grit channel is the next treatment process. The sewer system is designed to provide a minimum internal flow velocity of 2 ft/sec. The grit channel is designed to reduce that velocity to 1 ft/sec allowing heavy debris like sand, gravel, and other abrasive material to settle to the bottom of the channel. If left in the wastewater flow, this material would abrade pump impellers, collectors, and other mechanical equipment. The removed grit is collected, stored, and disposed of by land filling.

Aeration Reactors

The settled sewage pump station lifts the primary effluent up into two 600,000-gallon aeration reactors where it is mixed with activated sludge bacteria. A centrifugal blower compresses and moves air to the bottom of the reactor supplying the bacteria with dissolved oxygen necessary for respiration, and mixing the tanks contents. At normal flows, it takes a gallon of wastewater from 7 to 10 hours to pass through the reactor. The bacteria remove the pollutants from the wastewater and use them as an energy source. These tanks went into service in 1972, and where covered with aluminum hatches to control inherent odors that are generated by the process.

Primary Clarifiers

This part of the plant accomplishes the removal of screenings and grit from the raw wastewater. A screen positioned perpendicular to the flow captures rags, plastics, sticks, and debris that could plug up pumps and sludge collectors. A cutting bar moves across the screen and chops up the collected material into small pieces that will not clog downstream treatment equipment. This debris cutter is called the comminutor.

A grit channel is the next treatment process. The sewer system is designed to provide a minimum internal flow velocity of 2 ft/sec. The grit channel is designed to reduce that velocity to 1 ft/sec allowing heavy debris like sand, gravel, and other abrasive material to settle to the bottom of the channel. If left in the wastewater flow, this material would abrade pump impellers, collectors, and other mechanical equipment. The removed grit is collected, stored, and disposed of by land filling.

Final Clarifiers

The discharge from the aeration reactors is directed to the center of two 500,000–gallon final clarifiers.  In the absence of agitation, the bacteria settle to the bottom of these circular tanks. The center of the clarifier supports and drives two rake arms that move the settled solids into a sludge box in the center of the tank.  Pumps collect and move the settled bacteria mixture back to the head of the aeration reactors. The purified water moves to the outside of the tank, and flows over the discharge weirs.

BioSolids Application Program

Biosolids are semisolid and liquid residues generated during the biological treatment of the wastewater at the water recycling plant. This nutrient-rich material is recycled to beneficially enrich soils.  Area Farmers are the main benefactors of this program, which helps them reduce their costs for commercial fertilizers. Biosolids are also used to regenerate forest growth and to reclaim areas destroyed during industrial mining operations.

Approximately 3 million gallons of biosolids are applied annually to improved soil structure and fertility. During the spring and summer growing season the liquid biosolids are transported to the application site with a 6,000-gallon tanker truck. During winter months when application is suspended, the material is stored in a 1-million gallon above ground storage tank.

Mercury Minimization

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is recognized as a bioaccumulative chemical of concern. When mercury enters the environment it tends to concentrate in organisms that are at the top of the food chain. Over the last 15 to 20 years, game fish consumption advisories have been issued in Michigan because of elevated mercury levels in the fish. The Alpena Water Recycling Plant first implemented a mercury minimization in 1986. The focus of the plan was to identify and eliminate mercury discharges from commercial and industrial sources. Utility personnel have assisted in the identification of numerous over-the-counter products that utilize mercury as a preservative. Once identified, mercury free products can be substituted. For example, Alpena General Hospital sponsored a mercury thermometer exchange program that provided participants with a digital thermometer as a substitute. 

Further progress in reducing mercury in wastewater discharges must be accomplished by educating the general public about the mercury pollution prevention. Many products that are purchased over-the-counter can contribute mercury to the environment, without the user even knowing. Information about mercury minimization can be found at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Web Page http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3585-11756--,00.html

Industrial PreTreatment Program

The water recycling plant management staff regulates Commercial and Industrial wastewater discharges. Chemicals that could upset the biological processes at the plant must be strictly controlled. The indiscriminate discharge of metals and other toxins can also pass through the plant and enter the environment. Customers that have the potential to negatively impact plant processes are issued discharge permits and are inspected annually to insure compliance with limitations. 

Pathogen Reduction

Chlorine bleach is added to the treated wastewater after secondary treatment is complete. Chlorine is a strong oxidizer that kills organisms that could cause diseases. The toxic qualities that make chlorine a good disinfectant would have a detrimental impact on the environmental if it were discharged directly to the river. Therefore, the chlorine must be neutralized with Sodium Bisulfate before the treated water is released to the environment. 

Odor Control

The equipment and infrastructure necessary to transport and recycle wastewater creates conditions that are inherently prone to the creation of odors. The offensive odors are typically caused by the bacterial decomposition of organic compounds. The classic rotten egg sewer gas odor is one byproduct of this process. Because of the plants close proximity to the boat harbor area. The Alpena Municipal Council voted to add 1.5 million dollars worth of odor control equipment to the facility. All treatment vessels have been covered to contain inherent odors. The foul air is moved by a series of fans, blowers and ductwork to two odor scrubbers. These scrubbers use bleach and caustic soda to chemically remove the odor causing agents found in the collected air.

Anaerobic Digesters

Any wastewater treatment process generates solids that must to stabilized and recycled. Two 300,000-gallon anaerobic digesters are used to treat the solid material generated by the Alpena Water Recycling Plant. The digesters are similar to a septic tank, except modifications are made to the process to speed up the bacterial activity. The primary digester is heated to between 90 and 100 degrees F and the contents of the tank are mixed using compressed digester gas. 

A valuable byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process is methane gas. This energy source is used to fire the plant boiler and fuel a 4-cyclider engine that drives a raw wastewater pump. Utilization of methane gas from the digester saves the Utility about $15,000 in energy costs.

 


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