Wastewater treatment facility compliance violation, due to “lab error or maybe a slug”
By Stephanie Johns
The Northside Wastewater Treatment Facility experienced a compliance violation on Aug. 14: the daily maximum for the ratio of waste to water was exceeded by 24 milligrams per liter.
The permitted daily maximum of 45 milligrams per liter increased to a total of 69 milligrams per liter.
Lee Wyatt, lead wastewater plant operator for City of Madison Wastewater, said that the violation is really nothing to worry about.
“It’s either a lab error or maybe a slug,” he said, adding that a slug is something that comes through the plant and passes on through. “An increase in flow could cause that.”
Wyatt shared that there were no visible signs of contamination at the creek One Mile Branch. He added that this was one incident and not indicative of a long-term problem.
“No changes have been made at the creek,” he said. “Everything’s been fine for a whole month.”
Because the flow goes back into the creek, the facility must not only monitor the plant, it also must monitor the creek.
Weekly plant tests include fecal, dissolved oxygen, pH, biological oxygen demand and total suspended solids. Per the plant’s permit, required testing includes the creek’s levels for fecal, temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH.
He added that a composite sample is taken over an eight-hour period. The sample then goes to the lab at Indian Creek.
Wyatt explained that they must test for seven days in a row, then weekly for a month. They then wait three months before repeating the process. The seven-day testing period began last Thursday.
Printed in the September 20, 2012 edition