A Cutting Edge Solution Yields Rewards
The Town of Sturbridge sought to upgrade its aging 40-year-old wastewater treatment facility (WWTF), which serves approximately 10,000 residents. Beyond the aging infrastructure, there was a pending shortfall in the capacity to support future economic and population growth, and deterioration in the water quality of several local lakes and ponds.
Our team worked with plant operators and town officials to evaluate options to upgrade the facility, and implement the final design. In 2013, the Town of Sturbridge and our firm received The American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) Gold Award for this project.
Cutting Edge Technology
When these upgrades were completed, the Sturbridge WWTF became the first full scale combined BioMag/CoMag wastewater system in the nation. The implementation of two new cutting edge and effective treatment processes, BioMag and CoMag, have increased wastewater treatment efficiency, improved water quality, as well as reduced costs and overall environmental impact.
Unlike typical wastewater treatment processes, BioMag uses magnetite – a relatively inexpensive and readily available iron ore – that mixes with sewage microorganisms to improve processing, and double the pace and capacity of wastewater treatment. This system also uses magnets to recycle and reuse the magnetite for repeated and ongoing WWTF usage. These new processes enabled Tighe & Bond to almost double the plant capacity without adding new tanks or substantially increasing the WWTF footprint. At the same time, this technology improves nutrient removal and decreases phosphorous levels for improved water quality and reduced algae growth.
Financial, Water Quality & Sustainable Successes
The financial savings have been considerable. This $17 million project was completed for $3 million less than the original estimate approved by the Town of Sturbridge’s Town Meeting. Plus, costs were further reduced by a grant of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that will reduce the impact on water and sewer rates.
This upgrade will improve water quality in the Quinabaug River, and ultimately in Long Island Sound. In addition, sustainable elements were built into the design that include: reusing blower waste heat for building heat, implementing process and HVAC equipment that match facility demands, and low impact design stormwater management techniques.
Besides comprehensive planning and design, Tighe & Bond provided pilot testing, cost analysis, permitting, funding application assistance, and construction and post construction services. In addition to treatment process improvements, we provided provided permitting, site design, structural, HVAC and electrical engineering for several facilitity buildings.