DeKALB – Mark Eddington thinks it’s important for one to have a sense of humor when working for a sewage plant.
The district manager of the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District brandished a coffee cup in the shape of the poop emoji as he gave a tour of the district’s new administrative building.
The 10,000-square-foot building is now open, part of an ongoing $46.5 million water treatment plant upgrade, much to the excitement of Eddington and his colleague, district engineer Mike Holland.
Construction on the administration building began in the winter of 2017, and district employees moved in Dec. 10.
The building not only houses administrative employees, but a quality-testing laboratory, a control room, and a number of offices, break rooms and a boardroom.
“The old building was located in the middle of the plant, so you had to drive through the treatment plant to get to that building, so it wasn’t particularly ideal,” Eddington said. “We decided to move it closer to Sycamore Road to make site security and public access easier.”
Just off the drive at 1301 Sycamore Road, the new building has a new parking lot with an electric car charging station, and the facility is broken into two halves: one for administration and the other for the control and operating aspects of the plant.
Holland said the control room – which overlooks the rest of the plant, currently under construction – allows the operators to conduct their work from inside.
“A lot of our plant is automated, and we get alarms and signals from our equipment that’s telling us how fast the water is going, how many amps it is drawing, how much electricity are we using,” Holland said. “And we’re essentially running diagnostics on it.”
“Before the internet, we didn’t have things like an Ethernet cord which can send data,” Eddington.
The $46.5 million water treatment plant upgrade is designed to optimize energy efficiency and will include equipment that will enable the district to use bio gas created from the treatment process to power a generator that will produce its own electricity and heat with a goal of being energy neutral by 2030, Holland has said.
The three-year facilities upgrade project is still on track to be completed by the spring of 2020, Eddington said.
“We’re actually a little ahead of pace, which is good,” Eddington said. “All the major excavation has been completed, and the contractor is looking to install equipment, electrical devices, and control elements.”
In the lab, three to five gallons of water get tested every day to make sure the treatment process is maintaining a legal level of water quality.
“We test for varying contaminants, since we’re required to remove them from sewage,” Eddington said.
Another key aspect of the upgrade is incorporating bio gas to fuel the electricity to power the plant. The water reclamation district’s goal is to be energy neutral by 2030, Eddington said.
“It works just like your stomach, you feed your stomach, and what happens? You produce gas,” Eddington said. “We catch that gas, which is part of the decomposition in biological waste, and we clean that bio gas.”
In the new facility, generators are being installed to create electrical power from the bio gas to fuel the plant.
The inaugural district board meeting in the new building will be held at noon Jan. 16 and is open to the public.