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Wastewater treatment plant needs new conveyor system earlier than expected

BRATTLEBORO—Wastewater and septic effluent are hard on a system.

That’s what Public Works Director Steve Barrett has discovered at the still relatively new Wastewater Treatment Plant.

According to Barrett, the treatment plant’s front line — the conveyor liner and shaftless screw — has worn out “and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.”

The new system, which went online in 2012, operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, he said. The conveyor system removes abrasive materials from the 400 million gallons of wastewater and septage — or partially treated sludge stored in a septic tank — that passes through the treatment center annually.

“It’s the big hitter,” he said.

Local septic tank companies drop off approximately 2 million gallons of the sludge at the treatment plant each year. The DPW takes in $160,000 in fees annually by accepting the septic waste.

The treatment equipment includes a fine screen and “grit removal system” that takes materials from the wastewater, Barrett said. This material can damage other areas of the treatment plant’s filter system.

Barrett requested, and the Selectboard approved, $22,574 to replace the two components.

DPW received a quote from Custom Conveyor Corporation, said Barrett. The shaftless screw will cost $13,811, while the conveyor liner will cost $8,763.

Barrett said he hoped to get two more years out of the the two items.

He has asked engineers if the components failed too soon. The engineers told Barrett that three years is short but not surprising.

On a positive note, Barrett said the conveyor has paid for itself.

According to Barrett, the $160,000 in septic fees the DPW collects breaks into $438 a day. The conveyor system costs approximately $20.61 a day to operate.

Still, Barrett said he plans to investigate other systems in hopes of finding a more durable alternative.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #341 (Wednesday, January 27, 2016). This story appeared on page C4.

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