City wastewater plant will be updated

Fewer fumes and better compost.

That’s what Langley expects to get after the city’s wastewater treatment plant undergoes a needed update.

The city council voted Wednesday to approve the purchase of a $135,900 belt filter dewatering system.

The new belt filter press helps remove water from sludge in the city’s wastewater, and that means a better, dryer compost product. The system also helps reduce odor emissions.

While the new equipment does not stretch plant capacity – the city’s wastewater plant is currently operating at about 60 percent capacity – it will help Langley’s public works department operate the facility more effectively.

Rick Hill, director of public works, said modernized equipment will improve and update Langley’s composting abilities.

“What we do in a week now, we can do in half a day with the new equipment,” Hill told the council.

More sewage can be accepted and processed, which means more income for the city, he said.

Another positive for the system is the reduced operating cost due to fuel savings, Hill said.

The savings could be passed on to the community by limiting sewage charges.

Councilwoman Faith Bushby asked if the city had the money to improve the treatment plant. Hill and clerk-treasurer Debbie Mahler said there is money in the budget for the improvements.

Hill said Langley expects to pay off the system within three years.

Langley is currently reviewing its sewer and wastewater system plan as part of the update of the city’s comprehensive sewer plan.

The city council took a tour of the treatment plant several months ago to prepare for the update, and the council is currently studying drafts of the sewer plan.

Hill said the major points of the update are:

• Upgrading the treatment facility, with the new belt filter dewatering system as the first step. Eventually the plant must be expanded, however.

• Changing to a low-pressure sewer as the preferred sewer system in Langley. It would be cheaper for the city, Hill said.

• Putting sewer extensions in place.

A presentation and hearing on the comprehensive sewer plan is planned for July 19.

South Whidbey gardeners can still pick up compost, the wastewater plant byproduct, for free at the treatment plant. City officials say the free compost project has been very successful and has helped the public works department move compost off facility grounds faster.

The compost product is odorless and safe for most plantings, except some leafy vegetables.

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