by Lisa Tome
The very first sewage that will be processed at Rising Sun's new wastewater treatment plant, won't come from town.
Instead, it will be trucked in from another facility, likely from Elkton, Havre de Grace, or another area plant.
Rising Sun's new Orbital ditch wastewater treatment plant will be up and running within a few weeks, according to David Portsmouth, the resident engineering inspector who was contracted by the project's engineer CDM Smith.
Operations will first be tested with water. If that works, waste will be brought from a neighboring plant for more tests.
"Things are looking good. We've got grass growing," said Rising Sun water and sewer commissioner George Walker, while on site at the plant last week. "We've got lots of people working. I'm already relaxed."
Walker has been concerned for months that the plant wouldn't be completed in time to meet deadlines imposed by the Maryland Department of the Environment and to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture loan requirements.
His concerns have been checked in part, because town officials moved forward with hiring a firm to operate the plant.
Two firms, Singh and Miller Environmental bid on the project. Miller Environmental was awarded the job with their bid of $86,029.74 annually for operations. The Singh bid included more hours on site and they bid $199,352. The start up cost for operations was included in the project cost.
Two other companies - MES and Severn Trent - were contracted but did not bid.
"When I first started, I went to the plant and it was a disaster. Now it looks like it might be something. Hiring an operator is a cap on that," said Walker.
On site, Portsmouth explained the testing process. Currently, hoses are filling the various components with fresh water so the testing phase can begin and troubleshooting can get underway.
"We're still shooting for July 13 for substantial completion. After the clean water test we will bring in waste - activated sludge, and the bugs (which activate the plant). We will make sure it runs for the 60 day performance test. And by the end of September or October 1 the plant will be up and running," explained Portsmouth.
"When you look at all this, you wonder why it was such a problem," said Walker.