Ever wonder what happens to the water and waste that goes down your drains? Where does it go and what happens to it once it gets to where it’s going?
All of that water and waste ends up at the located off Post Road.
Typically, the 24/7, 365-days-a-year plant is quiet, but there is major construction going on.
Aberdeen’s Director of Public Works, Matt Lapinsky, and Plant Superintendent Paul Visser, gave me a guided tour of the plant that treats our waste water and the enhanced nutrient removal upgrade that is underway.
Last year, Aberdeen embarked on a multi-million dollar upgrade to its waste water treatment plant.
The $24.8 million dollar upgrade, funded by a $15 million state grant, a $9 million state loan and $850,000 in local funds, is a 28-month project that is approximately 14 months from completion.
Enhanced nutrient removal is the focus of this project.
Capacity is not being addressed with this construction. The 4 million total gallons per day capacity is well beyond the plant's current 1.8 million gallons of waste water inflow. Currently serving approximately 4,700 sewer connections, the plant has considerable excess capacity to meet future needs.
The process to treat waste water—water from showering, laundry and yes, the flushing of our toilets—is a very complex process. It involves mechanical filtration to separate the solids and grease. Air is pumped into the water to stimulate the growth of bacteria that is used to break down the ammonia (nitrification). Chemicals (sodium hydroxide) are used to precipitate the suspended matter and to achieve the proper pH before introducing the treated water back into the environment.
When the treated water comes cascading down a series of steps and empties into a small tributary of Swan Creek, the water is 99.6 percent void of any nutrients and suspended solids.
Proving just how clean the treated water is, Assistant Superintendent George Skinner, has set up a 175 gallon fish tank that is constantly fed treated water from the plant. Catch-and-release blue gills are swimming (and growing large!) in the tank, as are a couple of trap door pond snails.
Acting as a kind of “canary in the coal mine”, the fish are thriving in water treated at the plant.
Keeping Aberdeen’s plant running and in compliance falls on the very capable shoulders of Visser, who is celebrating his 40th year at the plant. He and his 14 employees ensure that the water that comes out of the plant is nothing like the water that came into the plant.
Aberdeen's plant is always working, always monitored, and now, being upgraded to ensure that future generations will enjoy the Chesapeake Bay as we and our forefathers have.