Orange wastewater plant replaces aeration blowers

  • Orange Wastewater Treatment Facility Chief Operator Ed Billiel Jr. by the two new 35 horsepower turbo aeration blowers. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A portion of a multi-year improvement plan has been completed at the Orange Wastewater Treatment Facility, which now has two 35 horsepower turbo aeration blowers, pictured. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Orange Wastewater Treatment Facility Chief Operator Ed Billiel Jr. by the 212,000 gallon aeration tanks. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Orange Wastewater Treatment Facility at 295 West Main St., which was built in 1977, is subject to a $16 million improvement project. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/9/2020 1:17:35 PM
Modified: 7/9/2020 1:17:26 PM

ORANGE — A portion of a multi-year improvement plan has been completed at the Orange Wastewater Treatment Facility, which now has two 35 horsepower turbo aeration blowers.

Chief Operator Edward Billiel Jr. explained two 50 horsepower aeration blowers were replaced with more energy efficient ones, with a projected annual savings of $11,655 through a reduction of approximately 77,701 kilowatt-hours per year. This would represent a 40 percent reduction in the electricity used in the aeration process.

Aeration blowers, Billiel explained, provide the air that microscopic organisms need to survive inside aeration tanks, where they break down the organic materials of wastewater.

Billiel said the facility at 295 West Main St., which was built in 1977, had three 50 horsepower blowers. One will now serve as a backup because there are two aeration tanks and one blower for each.

“In the upcoming upgrade, we will replace the third blower,” he noted.

The town applied for state Gap II grant money in 2017 and received it the following year. Orange was awarded $200,000 through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Energy Results Program, with support from the Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The town also contributed $145,000 from its sewer enterprise retained earnings.

The anticipated $11,655 in annual savings could be put toward lowering the sewer rate, Billiel said. As of July 1, sewer rates increased from $6.90 per 100 cubic feet of water usage to $9.70 to help the facility afford its contribution toward the work.

“That’s a considerable jump,” he said of the increase.

The aeration blower replacement is part of a larger-scale $16 million improvement project made possible, in part, by a $6.5 million United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant that will cover 40 percent of the work. The USDA is also loaning $10 million to Orange for the rest of the project’s cost.

Billiel, who has been with the plant for 37 years and has worked as chief operator for 19, said additional upgrades include getting a new screen that catches rags and other debris and brings them to the ground level, as well as a new system that collects sand and grit. The facility’s current screen requires employees to walk down three flights of stairs to remove the debris and shovel it into buckets.

He said he hopes this work will go out to bid this month or next.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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