by Kurtis Workman
Press Staff Writer
“It is like hosting a party,” said Pete Cortez, American Falls water/wastewater superintendent.
It may not be the party people first think of. Cortez is referring to recycling water and solids back into the partially operational wastewater treatment plant to feed organisms that clean the dirty water American Falls puts out.
The wastewater treatment plant is nearing the original substantial completion date of mid-February 2014, but Cortez said that date is still the goal for the project and not the goal at the same time.
“We are operational and continue to increase our capacity, so February is still the timeframe we are looking to for processing operations. However, we have received a grant from the USDA that will allow us to build a new maintenance shop and other facilities, so that has extended the project,” said Cortez.
When the wastewater treatment plant will reach full capacity is dependent on how well the party goes.
“When we reach the proper amount of ‘bugs’ in the system we will be able to operate at full capacity, but putting a firm date on when that will happen is tough because it depends on how well we can reach the correct concentration,” said Cortez.
Despite running below capacity the benefits are already obvious to Cortez.
“We have seen huge drops in our numbers. With the old plant our E. coli colony counts were in the 60 to 70 colony count range. Our latest test showed only three colonies. I have never seen it this clean here,” Cortez said.