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DECATUR -- Since its retrofitting project was completed in March 2019, the Decatur wastewater treatment plant has drawn national attention.

The city, Decatur Wastewater Treatment and McClelland Engineering recently won the Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies -- Arkansas on March 5 for the plant's state-of-the-art design.

Another award the treatment plant, McClelland Consulting Engineers (designer) and Crossland Heavy contractor's (design-builder) won last year was the Design-Build Institute of America's 2019 Design-Build Honor Award during its annual awards celebration in Kansas City, Mo., on November 15. Both awards were given to the Decatur facility for its revolutionary design and operational system.

When the plant came online, it became the first and only wastewater treatment plant in Arkansas to ueze the membrane bioreactor system with a SCADA management system to treat its solid waste.

The Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition is a monitoring and control system managing equipment and instruments to increase efficiency while reducing downtime. It's a computerized system connecting to the plant PLC systems.

In late 2016, Mayor Bob Tharp and James Boston, director of public works, realized the Decatur plant was in need of a major renovation. Because of the rapid growth of one of Decatur's major customers -- Centerton-- the plant might not be able to keep up with production in the coming years.

After a lengthy discussion with the City Council, Tharp and Boston were able to get an ordinance passed to choose an engineering firm to help design the project. McClelland Engineering in Fayetteville was chosen for the task. The city has worked with McClelland on other projects.

McClelland submitted several design ideas for the plant's renovation. Both Boston and Tharp wrestled with the designs involving a major building project which would add processing tanks to the plant. The cost of the project pushed upwards of more than $10 million.

A revolutionary system used in water treatment plants around the United States and Canada came to Boston purely by accident, the membrane bioreactor system. Instead of a major build, the membrane system allows the city to retrofit the existing tanks, saving Decatur several million dollars in construction cost.

But the city found it needed the plant retrofitted much sooner than the traditional method of finding an engineering firm and then waiting upwards of four years before the first pieces went into the ground.

The city decided to go with a much faster method to build the plant and it took a fraction of the time from concept to competition.

"A design-build is a much faster method and it worked very well for us since we needed to build this in such a short time," Boston recalled. "I get a lot of phone calls now wanting to know how we did it and if we like the experience. The method is really catching on and really speeds up the process in getting something built. We were the first in Arkansas to have a wastewater plant go through this process."

The plant, on the average, treats about 2.3 million gallons of wastewater per day when the Simmons Foods processing plant is in full operations. Those numbers drop to between 1.5 and 2 million gallons on the weekend when the Simmons plant is shut down.

When the wastewater treatment plant went online, Boston and Tharp expected the maximum output to be 3.8 million gallons a day. Much to their delight, the plant maximum output is 4.3 million gallons a day. This gives the city a chance to keep pace with the phenomenal growth caused by the city of Centerton and the Simmons processing plant.

But Boston is quick to note the key to the facility's success isn't only the mayor and City Council but his employees, Andy French, Alton Verser, Mark Wilkins and Michael Cox.

"The city is lucky to have a great operational staff with a wealth of knowledge to face any challenge that may arrive on a day-to-day basis," Boston said. "Andy, Alton, Mark and Michael help keep our state-of-the-art plant moving forward."

NW News on 04/26/2020

Print Headline: Wastewater treatment plant receives national award

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