PUBLIC TOURS OF THE OWOSSO WASTEWATER Treatment Plant were offered on Saturday, March 23. The tours gave community members the unique opportunity to witness the operations at the facility located just north of Owosso along the Shiawassee River.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
The Friends of the Shiawassee River (FOSR) and Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne offered two public tours to Owosso’s regional wastewater treatment plant on Saturday, March 23. The event was part of the National Waterways Exhibits currently happening in the area. The Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit is ongoing at the Shiawassee Arts Center through Sunday, April 7.
Owosso’s wastewater treatment plant is located on Chippewa Trail, just north of VG’s Grocery and a block west of M-52. The plant is an integral part of city infrastructure, with the original building on the location dating back to 1935. Area wastewater is collected from Owosso, Owosso Township, Corunna and also Caledonia Township.
Leading the tours on Saturday were Henne and former water utilities manager, Gary Burk – also both members of FOSR.
During a report presented by Henne at a city council meeting in July 2018, it was disclosed that the plant is actually in need of some repairs, and because of use and age, has been retrofitted in a number of ways over the decades due to retroactive city budget constraints. That stated, the facility still tasks reclaiming wastewater in a process that ultimately results in returning three to four million gallons per day of biologically clarified or clean water to the Shiawassee River – one function of the plant being to always maintain a healthy river.
Generally, and in simple terms, the primary treatment of wastewater begins when it enters a plant for treatment, is screened to remove larger debris, enters into a grit chamber(s) for processing – then eventually once the grit is removed, the water still contains minute particles of both organic and inorganic material. The particles are eventually removed in tanks when they sink to the bottom to form a mass of solids, often referred to as sludge. The sludge removed at Owosso’s wastewater treatment plant is currently taken to the Venice Township landfill. The facility produces approximately 15 yards of sludge every seven hours. Burk shared that the city is looking for alternatives to the sludge in the future.
The secondary treatment of wastewater then aims to eliminate as much of the remaining organic matter as possible. Chlorine is eventually added to kill bacteria and help with odor, but then the water is dechlorinated prior to being released so it is safe for aquatic life. The water from the Owosso facility is released into the river near the western edge of the property.
In the July 2018 Owosso City Council meeting, Mayor Chris Eveleth stated that the city water infrastructure is the most used, but underappreciated service the city offers. The Saturday tours gave community members the rare chance to gain a better understanding of one aspect of that service.
More information can be found at www.ci.owosso.mi.us. To find out more on FOSR, please visit www.shiawasseeriver.org, call (989) 723-9062 or contact Lorraine Austin, executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.