OSAGE | One of the by-products of the new $146 million Valent BioSciences Corp. operation, which opened in 2014, was an increase in industrial wastewater.
As a result, an $8.4 million county-owned and city-staffed pre-treatment plant, located just south of the VBC plant, opened late last year. And, a $5.5 million expansion to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, located on its long-time site just west of the city, is hurtling to completion this spring.
The arrival of VBC provided an opportunity for the city, said Public Works Director Jerry Dunlay. The expansion of the city plant was not only designed to handle the increase in wastewater expected from the new VBC operation, it provided the city an opportunity to upgrade its own operation.
Today, he said, both operations are state-of-the-art and well-positioned for the future.
“The VBC plant was so unique; I don’t think there is another town of our size in Iowa that has this type of situation. In many ways, we have been breaking the mold,” said Dunlay.
While the county owns the pre-treatment site – paid for through TIF revenues – VBC paid for the construction and the city is reimbursed for its operation. Its first-year budget was set at $1.7 million, although Dunlay said that some efficiencies have shown their cost-savings already. After seven months into the fiscal year, he said, only 40 percent of the budget has been used.
The pre-treatment plant, in laymen’s terms, works to remove bad stuff from the water it discharges. The pre-treatment takes the plant’s wastewater and biologically treats it to a lower strength wastewater and sends it to the city’s wastewater treatment facility for final treatment. One more fulltime position was added to the city’s roster, due to expansion; another will be added this summer to pre-treatment operations at VBC.
City officials studied population trends, industry growth and other factors to determine how much expansion was needed at the city site. The daily normal capacity of about 600,000 gallons will now be 968,000 gallons after expansion. The operation could handle up to 4 million gallons in a flood event, Dunlay said.
“We have definitely built for the future,” he said.
The current 1,700 pound-per day load capacity after expansion will jump to about 2,500 pounds per day, Dunlay said. Expansion has included a new screening building, where grit is removed; a third ditch and clarifier; and a transition from use of chlorination of water to ultraviolet disinfection, he said.
The city has also upgraded sludge storage – sludge is eventually land applied – and created an equalization basin. Again in laymen’s terms, that is simply a big overflow tank, he said.
Wapasha Construction, based out of Winona, Minn., is the general contractor for the city plant. Henkel Construction of Mason City was the general contractor for the wastewater site at VBC.
“The good news, is that none of this comes with any kind of rate increase,” Dunlay said.