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Sycamore City Council OKs contract for phase 2 of wastewater upgrades

SYCAMORE – Sycamore city officials hope to move forward with wastewater treatment plant upgrades as soon as possible, pending Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approval.

Expansion on Sycamore’s treatment plant began in 2009 with mechanical equipment upgrades, which was considered the first phase of the expansion project. Phase two includes other upgrades such as installing a disinfection system for the excess flow clarifier, replacement of a rotary fan press for sludge dewatering with a centrifuge, installation of a stilling well and supervisory control and data acquisition system upgrades.

At the Sycamore City Council meeting Monday night, the council approved a contract for the second phase with J.J. Henderson & Son, Inc. of Gurnee.

The original estimated cost for the project was $1.5 million, but bids from contractors ranged at more than $2 million. City Manager Brian Gregory said some of the projects, including SCADA system upgrades, will be pushed to phase three to stay closer to the original estimated cost for the project. Mayor Ken Mundy said phase three, which will be the full expansion, is indeterminate until sometime after 2015. Phase three will need about $10 million to fund the remainder of the treatment plant’s expansion, Gregory said.

“The one thing we did not want to do is reduce and compromise any functionalities,” Gregory said of phase two. “The first thing we reduced is SCADA, which is roughly a $200,000 referral.”

The city worked with Tim Bronn of McMahon Associates to see where other cuts could be made for the second phase. Gregory said after adjustments, at most phase two would cost between $1.8 million and $2.1 million, bringing the budget closer to the original estimate.

IEPA has come down harder on its requirements for disinfection systems, Gregory said. Because of this, the disinfection system must be completed by November. Using peracetic acid technology would save money, Gregory said.

He said the technology often is used in the food industry instead of using chlorine pellets. With chlorination, the water would eventually have to be dechlorinated, which means another building and more equipment, Gregory said. Peracetic acid would save more than $300,000 compared to chlorination.

“There will be a lot less time and a lot less headaches involved with [a peracetic acid system],” Bronn said.

There are several plants in Florida that have been using the system, Bronn said. He said these places have switched to the technology because no chlorinated byproducts are created, which can be difficult and costly to deal with.

“The downside is the peracetic acid is a little bit more expensive for the chemical than the combination of chlorine and dechlorination,” Bronn said. “But when you look at the capital cost to build the systems, you’d have to have the system online for 100 years to make up the difference in the chemical cost.”

The city is in talks with IEPA to get a permit to use the technology. By approving the contract at the meeting Monday, the city can immediately get to work once the permit is awarded. If the permit is not awarded, the city would go forward with the chlorination technology to stay on track with their timeline and avoid any penalties or fines.

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