by Lisa Tome
After years of false starts, and 100 percent turnover in both construction contractor and engineer since the project started, things are moving right along at Rising Sun's new Orbital ditch wastewater treatment plant.
"There are a lot of workers here now," said Rising Sun water and sewer commissioner George Walker, while at the site off Route 1.
"There's more to it than you can see from above the ground," said a worker, who was hooking up electrical systems adjacent to the headworks of the new plant. When the work is done, the headworks is where the sewer will enter the plant to be treated. Currently, the inflow goes into the sewage lagoon. When the new plant is finished, the inflow will be redirected to the new plant and the lagoon will no longer be in use.
The new plant has a lot of moving parts, explained David Portsmouth, the resident engineering inspector who was contracted by the project's engineer CDM Smith.
"It's all underground. You won't smell it either," said Portsmouth.
The sewage will come into the plant at the headworks. It will go to the pump station. Then it will go to the oxidation ditch and then clarifiers. After several weeks it will be released into a creek.
Along the way, mechanical screens will collect anything that isn't sewage. The sewage will be oxidized, aerated multiple times, and microorganisms will be put to work. It also goes to a post anoxic tank and is gravity fed to clarifiers.
"The amount of liquid that comes in is what goes out. It all works on gravity," said Portsmouth.
There are also sand filters and an ultraviolet bacteria killing system.
"We bring it in. Treat it. Stir it up. Treat it in the ditch, aerate it. It goes in the sand filter. It's pretty simple," said Portsmouth.
But there are 13 structures on the site, some under construction, which will handle the various tasks related to treating the sewage.
Walker said the plant will be able to treat up to 500,000 gallons per day.
"The contractors are doing an excellent job. A great job. It's good to work with such conscientious people," said Commissioner Walker, who is learning his way around the plant.
The focus now is to get as much done as possible before cold weather sets in.
"There is plenty of work to do and it's moving right along. Everyone is aware of the deadline for when we have to have it done," said Walker.
The Town of Elkton has the same Orbital ditch plant on a larger scale. Portsmouth also worked on that project.
Earlier this year, the former contractor Howard Robson, Inc., filed a lawsuit against the town and left the job.
The 27-page lawsuit was filed by Robson, of Landisville, Pa. and Liberty Mutual Insurance of Boston, naming the Town of Rising Sun as the defendant. The suit is seeking $1.7 million in damages, and money for unpaid change orders, and an additional sum which is allegedly owed to vendors.
In summer, Wickersham Construction was hired to complete the work for $4.1 million.
Earlier, the engineering company which created the plans for the plant, RKK was replaced with CDM Smith.