Innovating Infrastructure in Lake Monticello

 

Our Aqua Virginia team recently completed an innovative wastewater treatment plant upgrade to improve service, protect local waterways, and operate more efficiently for the Lake Monticello community just outside Charlottesville.

 

Aqua had two overarching goals. We wanted to improve the quality of the plant’s treated wastewater, which is discharged into the stringently regulated Chesapeake Bay watershed. We also wanted to minimize future rate increases for customers by reducing operating expenses and deferring the need for a major plant overhaul, which would cost much more.

 

Consulting the Expert

 

We spoke to Aqua’s operations manager Dan Hingley, who engineered the project and oversaw construction. “While upgrades to water systems typically result in obvious improvements for customers — like better pressure or more reliable service — improvements to a wastewater system often go unnoticed,” said Hingley. “In fact, many of us don’t even think about our wastewater after it goes down the drain or is flushed away. Meanwhile, a lot of effort goes into collecting, transporting, and cleaning wastewater, and customers rely on us to protect the environment and their local waterways. This project demonstrates how we do that.”

 

 

 

The treatment concepts we used aren’t new, but the way we applied them required creativity and innovation to achieve goals at a lower cost. Making wise decisions about which treatment process to use and which types of equipment to install alleviated the total capital cost of the project. 

 

Aqua reconfigured the layout of the wastewater plant and added some new aeration system controls to optimize treatment. The team used baffle walls to create new zones within the existing tanks. These baffles control water flow, prolong the amount of time the wastewater spends in treatment tanks, and separate a single tank into multiple treatment stages. While the previous process was a single tank that was continuously aerated, the modified process added new zones that weren’t aerated to allow specific bacteria to eat organic matter in the untreated wastewater, which removes a nutrient called nitrogen.

 

In these new unaerated zones, Aqua had to install a mixing system since it was no longer being provided by the diffused aeration system. Aqua collaborated with a neighboring utility to design and build mixers that connect to the existing air supply system and release large air bubbles, rather than the smaller diffused air bubbles, to induce mixing. This solution costs less to create and costs less to operate than installing mechanical mixers.

 

 

 

 

Award-Winning Innovation

 

“Aqua’s top priority is to deliver safe, reliable drinking water and wastewater services to our customers,” noted Aqua Virginia President John Aulbach. “These upgrades in Lake Monticello will strengthen our infrastructure, improve service, and help protect the environment.” 

 

At its 2019 Summit, the National Association for Water Companies awarded Aqua a Management Innovation award for this project completed at the Lake Monticello wastewater treatment plant. The award recognizes a utility that has implemented groundbreaking and industry-changing ideas. 

 

Aqua provides water and wastewater service to about 80,000 people in 37 counties across Virginia. 

 

Keep an eye on our blog to go behind the scenes of more of our infrastructure improvement projects throughout 2020!

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Aqua Illinois Awarded Recognition for Excellence … Twice!

The team at the Kankakee Water Treatment Plant.

By Aqua Illinois President Craig Blanchette


Congratulations to our
Aqua Illinois team for being recognized for excellence in both water quality and water protection! Local industry organizations have awarded Aqua Illinois with the distinction of best-tasting water in Kankakee, and recognized us for our source water protection program in Danville.

I am very
proud of the team, and the product we produce, and want to thank you for everything you do to make us such a success.

As you may know, the “Best Tasting Water in the South Suburbs” is an award our Kankakee Water Treatment Plant has received in the past, and as of last month, we successfully defended our title. This is determined during the South Suburban Water Works Association's annual taste test competition, and we won for the second year in a row.

The judges evaluated finished drinking water from the Kankakee facility and compared it to water from the Village of Park Forest, as they also use the lime softening process to treat water. The water was judged by three criteria, including clarity, odor and taste. Our Kankakee Plant will now move on to the American Water Works Association's statewide contest this month, competing for top honors throughout the state of Illinois. 

 

Receiving the Best Tasting Water award from SSWWA Taste Test Committee Chair Chuck Lawrence are Mike Stone, Aqua Illinois production manager and Don Denault, water treatment technician.

 

Also happening later this month, on March 23, Aqua Illinois’ Danville area will receive the Source Water Protection Award from the Illinois Section American Water Works Association. The award will be presented to Production Manager Dave Cronk.

We are being recognized for the efforts made by our team to spread public awareness and promote the protection of the watershed. As part of our program, Aqua Illinois works with the local farming community to reduce the nutrient load into Lake Vermilion to a point that nitrate concentrations do not exceed 10 mg/l at any time throughout the year, and we provide education on the impact nutrient runoff has on drinking water. Along with this, we host an annual Lake Vermilion cleanup day, which brings the community together, promotes watershed awareness and helps enhance the natural beauty of the lake.

It is always wonderful to be recognized for hard work and dedication, and the Aqua Illinois team highly deserves these awards. Thank you for making the whole Aqua family proud, and for making the work you do each and every day, something that is worthy of being called, and is externally recognized as…excellence!

 

 

 

 

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