Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MWRD: Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (WRP)


MWRD posted
The MWRD’s Stickney Water Reclamation Plant transforms as much as 1.2 billion gallons of water per day, serving 2.3 million people from central Chicago and 46 suburban communities.
<update>
"The full Stickney facility is split into two plants—a western plant which entered service in 1930 and a southwest portion that opened nine years later."  [gizmodo] In 1929 the Supreme Court agreed with Wisconsin that MWRD could not continue to use Lake Michigan water to flush its raw sewage down the river. So that explains why MWRD built a plant in 1930. With the reduction of raw sewage in the river, a reduced flow out of the lake would be sufficient to keep the river from smelling. [Wikipedia] To reduce the flow, MWRD built a lock at the mouth of the Chicago River.

A video using the O'Brien WTP as the example. I learned they pump the solids here for further processing.
</update>

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago , CC BY-NC-SA via menafn
Stickney, with downtown Chicago visible in the distance top left. 

On May 21, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) hosted an open house of their Water Reclamation Plants. I chose Stickney because it is the closest and largest. In fact, they still claim to be the largest in the world. (As the host explained, "largest" is like the tallest skyscraper, ---you get a different answer depending on what you choose to measure. I know that is the case with steam locomotives as well. UP's Big Boy is generally considered the largest. But if you consider horsepower to be the most important metric, then Pennsy's Q2 at 7,900hp is the largest. The host did not elaborate on what metric they use when they claim "largest." Their brochure says "one of the largest.")

20160521 3184
This is the garden they had us wait in until the next tour could start. I learned later that it is one of their roof gardens. The district does practice the water conservation efforts that they are trying to encourage others to do such parking lot pavers and native prairie restoration. They also advocate rain barrels and surge ponds to put storm water into the ground rather than into the sewers.

They then had us move to a conference room to play a video and have questions and answers afterwards. Fortunately, I noticed that the video has been posted on line. But then it was removed. But I found the following update.
(new window)


During Q&A, I pointed out that the video did not mention that they now disinfect the effluent of some of their plants (Calumet and O'Brien). I learned that there are no plans to add disinfection to Stickney. Unlike the North Channel and Cal-Sag, no recreational use (e.g. kayaking) is envisioned for the shipping canal into which it dumps water. Plus I learned that the bacteria dies within two miles of the plant's outlet anyhow.

A typical treatment plant in Illinois handles one million gallons per day. This plant can process 1,440 million gallons per day (mgpd). That is, it can process in a minute what a typical plant does in a day. I remember the host saying that during a normal day they process 250 mgpd. But their brochure says 700 mgpd. The spare capacity is important in order to be able to handle storm water since Chicago has combined sewers. That spare capacity will be used extensively to treat the water caught in a reservoir once the TARP project is done. (TARP is a subject that is still on the todo list. Fortunately, MWRD has a web page about it.)

We then moved on to the control room where the host spent the entire time using this graphic on the wall to explain how the water is treated. I'll crop out details as part of the bus tour below.

On the wall of the control room observation area of the Stickney plant
Excerpt from wall graphic
One side of the area we were in was windows into the control room.


Along the opposite wall was some pictures of historical views and some artifacts.

Obviously, the panel on the right is one of the panels they used before computers became available.

This control stand is from an engine of their own railroad for hauling biosolids when the controls for the engine were upgraded.

As we left to get on a bus for a tour of the plant, I grabbed photos of the historical views they had on the wall. I added their text as the caption. (You can click on a picture to get a bigger version.)
West Side Sewage Treatment Works (ca. 1928)
Construction of the West Side Sewage Treatment Works
Bottom: Pump Discharge Conduits
Middle Left: Skimming Tanks
Top Right: Imhoff Tanks


Southwest Sewage Treatment Works (1938)
Installation of 98 Rotary Vacuum Filters in the Sludge Disposal Building
Demolished (2010)

Southwest Sewage Treatment Works (1937)
Installing the lower half of a Main Sewage Pump Volute. The volute is inverted in
this picture (suction is on top and discharge is to the right)

Southwest Sewage Treatment Works (1935)
Construction of Battery A Final Tanks

In the distance are Aeration Tanks of batteries A&B
Excerpt from wall graphic
The tour bus route took us in a direction that was opposite of the water flow through the plant. I'm going to discuss the photos in the order that the water flows. The first phase of treatment is passing through vertical steel bars spaced one inch apart. This protects the pumps from objects that would damage the pump's impeller blades. Periodically they rake off the collected trash. Of the odd objects they have seen, the one I remember is a bowling ball.

Pump and Blower House
The pumps are in the pump and blower house. Fortunately, I took a lot of pictures because the only decent shot I have of the house is in the background of another shot. The pumps push the water up 55 feet from the course screens terminating the interceptor sewer to the Aerated Grit Tanks. Each pump has a 3,600hp motor. This is the only time the water is pumped. From there gravity is used to flow from one tank to another until it finally discharges into the canal.

Excerpt from wall graphic
I'll let the graphic explain the Aerated Grit Tanks (preliminary treatment). (Remember, you can click the picture to get a larger version.)
This is the area of the Aerated Grit Tanks.
A side view of a tank. You can see lots of bubbles leaving the water. The blowers that are in the above pictured pump and blower house each have a 10,000hp motor using 13kv. They have to contact ComEd before they turn one on because it will run at 60-80,000hp for 15-20 seconds as it spins up the blower. "It does dim the lights."
A side view that shows the tops of the conveyors. By this time I learned to stand up when I had to take pictures of something on the opposite side of the bus so that there were not heads at the bottom of the picture.
Then the water flows to the Primary Settling Tanks (primary treatment).
You can see the paddles that skim the surface.
In these tanks that have been drained for maintenance, you can also see the paddles along the bottom.
Activated Sludge Aeration Tanks (secondary treatment). I believe the "activated" is the bacteria they grow in the tanks. The amount of air they need to pump in depends on the amount of bacteria that are growing. The bacteria eat a lot of the "solid human waste." The host mentioned that they were having trouble with one of their other plants because someone was dumping cyanide down the drain and that was killing their bacteria. They know when the bacteria goes down because the oxygen levels go up since no bacteria are consuming it. They did a lot of work trying to find the culprit. They finally found the source of the cyanide when the culprit divorced his wife and the wife tattled on him. The host pointed out that if you are doing something very criminal and your wife knows about it, you should probably not divorce her. Another story he told is when someone accidentally dumped a lot of vinegar down the drain. They were notified when the accident happened so they knew an issue was on its way to the plant. But they did not know what the impact would be. It turned out the oxygen levels went way down because the bacteria loved it and thrived. The host emphasized that since the 1930s, the plant does not using any chemicals, just biological processes. If you note the dates on the above construction pictures, they are in the 1930s.

(Update: I assume these are some of the the aeration tanks. Look at how the air makes the water churn.)
MWRD

I could not get a side view of these tanks because they are surrounded on both sides by the next stage of treatment.
Final Settling Tanks (terterary treatment).
This is one of the 96 final settling tanks. You can see the trough in the middle into where the clean water flows to leave the plant. The duck on the water must agree that the water on top is clean.
Battery C was out-of-service for maintenance. That is one-fourth of their capacity. I wonder if they will have it back in service before the next round of rains hit the area.

The solids that settled out of water treatment tanks first go to Concentration Tanks. I don't remember seeing them on the bus tour. They may have been enclosed to control odor. BTW, I did not smell anything doing the entire tour. Later, when I was driving around the area, I did smell odors from the chemical plant to the east.

The solids then go to a centrifuge to remove the water. For a picture of the centrifuge plant, see the railroad post. The extracted wastewater goes to the activated sludge aeration tanks for more treatment.
The biosolids then move to Anaerobic Digesters. Here bacteria eat the biosolids and excrete natural gas. As the video explains, they have expanded their capacity so that they can accept organic waste from other sources such as food processing plants so that they can create more gas to help them achieve their energy neutral goals.
The digesters are up on a hill, but they did not explain why they were up on a hill. The biosolids then go from the digesters to second set of centrifuges and then are dumped into the railroad cars to be dried in the field. They also have installed equipment that uses heat to dry the biosolids and forms them into pellets.

Excerpt from wall graphic
I marked the satellite image below with the following convention:
  • red: Offices and parking
  • green: Final Settling Tanks
  • yellow: Activated Sludge Aeration Tanks
  • dark blue: Primary Settling Tanks
  • light blue: Aerated Grit Tanks
  • orange: Pump and Blower House
  • purple: Anaerobic Digesters
  • brown: Centrifuge House
  • black: Phosphorous Recovery
Satellite

Pages 1 and 2 of "Recovering Resources, Transforming Water" Handout
The Stickney Water Reclamation Plant in Cicero, IL is one of seven watewater treatment facilities the MWRD owns and operates. As the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world, it serves over 2.3 million people and cleans an average of 700 million gallans of wastewater per day. It has the capacity to treat 1.4 billion gallans per day for residents in the central part of Chicago as well in 46 other communities within a 260-square-mile-area.

Update:
MWRD
Construction of the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on August 5, 1927.

MWRD posted
Construction of a grit chamber tank at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (originally called West Side Sewage Treatment Works) on October 19, 1927.

MWRD posted

MWRD posted
Construction of the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on August 5, 1927.

MWRD posted
Work on the intercepting sewer at approximately 3500 S. Pulaski Rd. in Chicago on April 11, 1928.
MWRD posted
A view of the West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two treatment plants which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, looking north from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. A transmission line tower & substation are shown during construction on Oct 23, 1928.
MWRD posted
Excavation for preliminary settling tanks at West Side Sewage Treatment Works, now called the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, viewed to the southeast on May 31, 1927.
Dennis DeBruler I'm surprised they are using mainly horse&wagons as late as 1927. I see one tracked vehicle pulling at least two bigger wagons.
MWRD posted

MWRD posted
Workers build wall panels for Imhoff tanks during construction of the West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two treatment plants which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, viewed to the southwest on August 5, 1927. 

MWRD posted
A view to the northwest from the top of an on-site concrete plant showing Imhoff tank facility construction for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on June 24, 1927. Imhoff tanks were an important part of early wastewater treatment operations but have been replaced by more efficient processes and facilities. West Side was one of two treatment plants which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant in Cicero, IL.

MWRD posted
A view from the top of an on-site concrete plant showing Imhoff tank facility construction for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on June 24, 1927. Imhoff tanks were an important part of early wastewater treatment operations but have been replaced by more efficient processes and facilities. West Side was the first of two treatment plants built, the other being Southwest Sewage Treatment Works, which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant. Learn more about our water reclamation plants here: https://mwrd.org/water-reclamation-plants

MWRD posted
Imhoff tanks, May 7, 2917
 
MWRD posted
Construction at West Side Sewage Treatment Works on January 11, 1928, viewed to the west from the pumping station.

MWRD posted
Construction of Imhoff tanks for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on June 13, 1928.
 
MWRD posted
Construction of interior compartment walls for Imhoff tanks at the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on June 24, 1927.

MWRD posted
Construction at West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two plants that eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, on December 29, 1927. The Stickney WRP currently serves over 2.3 million people and cleans an average of 700 million gallons of wastewater per day and has the capacity to treat 1.4 billion gallons per day. 

MWRD posted
Construction of an electrical substation at the West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two treatment plants which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, looking northeast from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, on October 23, 1928.

MWRD posted
An interior view of an onsite workshop during the construction of the West Side Sewage Treatment Works facility on May 23, 1928. The West Side plant was placed in service in 1930 and the adjoining Southwest Plant was placed in service in 1939. The two MWRD facilities are now combined and named the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant.

MWRD posted
Construction of the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) on December 11, 1935. The Stickney WRP consists of two facilities; the original West Side Plant which was placed in service in 1930 and the Southwest Plant which was placed in service in 1939. The Stickney WRP currently serves over 2.3 million people and cleans an average of 700 million gallons of wastewater per day and has the capacity to treat 1.4 billion gallons per day.
Rich Sustich For the mathematically challenged, that's just under a million gallons a minute. There's a reason there are Warning and No Mooring signs posted all around the outfall.
[Or 2,200 cfs]

One of six photos posted by MWRD
The MWRD Board of Commissioners, staff and contractors, including IHC Construction Companies, FH Paschen, S.N. Nielsen Joint Venture and Greeley and Hansen, joined neighboring communities and stakeholders to celebrate the completion of the $224.8-million upgrade at Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (SWRP). The nearly four-year project will improve operations and reduce odor issues associated with the wastewater treatment process at SWRP, where up to 1.44 billion gallons of water are treated per day for 2.3 million people living across 260 square miles of Cook County, including downtown Chicago and 46 other municipalities.
The MWRD constructed nine 160-foot diameter primary settling tanks and six 132-foot long aerated grit tanks, associated support facilities, service tunnels and conduits. The new infrastructure will replace labor-intensive tanks and increase digester gas production to reduce energy costs. The new tanks will also increase and improve grit removal, protect downstream piping and equipment, reduce sidestream water recycling and capture odors to benefit surrounding neighbors.
“These new tanks and facilities represent a major milestone in our evolution of water reclamation over a century of innovation at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago,” said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos. “We are replacing 90 year old Imhoff tanks with current technology to treat water during the primary phase of treatment, and as a result, it will lead to major savings for our taxpayers and the environment. We commend our staff and contractors who worked diligently to complete this project on time and on budget, working through system shut downs while keeping daily plant operations running smoothly.”
The primary settling tanks replace 108 Imhoff tanks that had been in service since 1928. While productive over a significant lifespan, the Imhoff tanks were aging and required replacement. The new tanks will allow the MWRD to increase digester gas production, reducing both energy costs for the MWRD and greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a major accomplishment for our engineers who designed a major overhaul of our primary and grit tanks and other support facilities,” said MWRD Vice President Barbara McGowan. “The project highlights the importance of critical infrastructure investments.”
The new primary tanks will have effluent weirs and troughs covered for odor control and tunnel access pump stations containing new pumps, airlifts, an electrical substation, odor control vessels and fans and other equipment. The aerated grit facility, which will be covered for odor control, will also include shaftless screw conveyors, centrifugal and airlift pumps for improved grit removal, grit classifiers and a dumpster-loading system to weed out whatever unwanted materials flow to SWRP. Process air for the grit tanks and primary tanks will be provided by new turbo blowers.
“To operate one of the world’s largest wastewater treatment plants, we have to constantly maintain it and improve our systems,” said MWRD Commissioner Frank Avila. “These upgrades speak to our mission in sustainability and as responsive members of the community trying to fulfill our role as a good neighbor working around the clock for the betterment of the community.”
Part of the project was funded through Clean Water State Revolving Funds. The State Revolving Funds program, administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, also received financial support through the U.S. EPA to provide communities the resources necessary to build, maintain and improve the infrastructure that protects water resources.
[A video of the ribbon cutting. Evidently they started filling a tank after the ribbon was cut.]

MWRD Cover Photo
MWRD posted
There may be an alligator living in the Humboldt Park lagoon, but we had a deer visit our Stickney plant this morning. Animal control escorted our guest as it walked back to the nearby woods unharmed. #GATORWATCH2K19
MWRD posted
Oh deer! Our friend has returned to the Stickney plant and this time, she's brought one of her young ones! We think she is trying to take the limelight away from #GATORWATCH2K19 [The Humbolt Park gator has eluded capture for at least four days.]

MWRD posted
onstruction of the pumping station for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two treatment plants which were combined to eventually become the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, viewed to the southeast on August 24, 1927.
Lawrence Paul The spoil piles in the distance are likely left over from the canal construction.

MWRD posted
Construction of the pumping station for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two treatment plants which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, viewed to the southeast on August 24, 1927. Learn more about our seven water reclamation plants here: https://mwrd.org/water-reclamation-plants

MWRD posted
Here we are staging materials and equipment in an aerated grit tank at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant

MWRD posted
Historical Photo of the Day: Twin sewer pipes under rock in an excavated tunnel in an unknown location on November 7, 1929.
Toni Donahue 9 days after the stock market crashed. This is a hard job but they are probably happy to be working.
Dennis DeBruler I assume that the sewer pipes get bigger as they get closer to a Water Reclamation Plant. How big are the pipes when they enter Stickney?
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Good question Dennis DeBruler. There are different sewers coming into the Stickney plant; our engineers report that Salt Creek interceptor is 7’, Argo sewer is 10’, west side #1 is 17’ and southwest #1 are two double barrel 16’.
MWRD posted three photos with the comment: "Three "elevated" views of early construction and excavation at the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on May 7, 1927. The West Side Plant was placed in service in 1930 and the adjoining Southwest Plant was placed in service in 1939. The two facilities were eventually combined and renamed the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, now one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the world."
1

2

3

MWRD posted
Construction of the masonry exterior wall for the pumping station at West Side Sewage Treatment Works in Cicero, Illinois, looking northwest, on December 29, 1927. The West Side Plant was placed in service in 1930 and the adjoining Southwest Plant was placed in service in 1939. The two facilities were eventually combined and renamed the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant

MWRD posted July 8, 2021
Construction of the pumping station for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on November 25, 1927. 
 
MWRD posted
Construction of grit chambers and skimming tanks at West Side Sewage Treatment Works on November 25, 1927. The West Side plant was placed into service in 1930 and the adjoining Southwest Plant was placed in service in 1939. The two MWRD facilities, now combined and named the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, currently serve over 2.3 million people and clean an average of 700 million gallons of wastewater per day with the capacity to treat 1.4 billion gallons per day.
 
MWRD posted
Construction of skimming tanks, grit chamber and coarse screens for the West Side Sewage Treatment Works on October 19, 1927.

MWRD posted
The Sanitary District of Chicago's (now MWRD) West Side Sewage Treatment Works, one of two treatment plants which were combined and eventually became the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, looking north from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, showing a transmission line tower and substation during construction on October 23, 1928

MWRD posted
Construction of West Side Sewage Treatment Works on August 15, 1928. The West Side facility eventually became part of the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant which serves 2.3 million people within 260 square miles in Cook County.
 
safe_image for We now treat half the world's wastewater and we can make inroads into the other half


An MWRD posting about the emissions reductions caused by the new equipment.

MWRD has posted an updated video. The MRWD also posted that they are a partner in reducing nitrogen runoff from a farm near Argenta, IL.

MWRD's page for Stickney.

MWRD posted a link to an article about the plant with the comment:
Learn about our Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, the world's largest, in this month's US Water Alliance newsletter. The Stickney WRP serves 2.3 million people in a 260-square-mile area, including the central part of Chicago and 46 suburban communities. The Stickney WRP cleans 700 million gallons of water per day, with the capacity to treat up to 1.44 billion gallons per day.

What The MWRD Has Learned About Wastewater Treatment

A video tour of Stickney

"Content includes the history of the MWRD and how it reversed the flow of the Chicago River, which is brought to life with historical imagery from the MWRD's archives. The tour provides an in-depth look at wastewater treatment, including underwater and microscopic views of the process. Aerial drone footage captures highlights of the construction of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan in addition to property the MWRD leases for recreational uses."



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