You see having sufficient water to use is only half of the equation. We all tend to focus on the necessary water being there for us every time we turn on a faucet, or we flush the “Euphemism.” Unless our drains are clogged, do we even give so much as a second thought to what happens to our waste water and sewage once it exits our residences, or our workplaces? We are inundated by the negative environmental impact of gaseous emissions, global warming, ozone depletion, and toxic waste spills. We even have a national (and state) Environmental Protection Agency as a watchdog for all non-green concerns. Rarely do we pay any lip service to the potential negative impact on the environment by the fluids that exit our homes and job locations via drains and sundry plumbing!
Friday, the Rochelle Chapter of the League of Women Voters and guests toured Rochelle’s Municipal Water Treatment facility. It was a real learning experience and nothing like what we expected. Operations Engineer Kathy Cooper carefully walked us thru the 17 hour process which begins when wastewater enters the site. Fluids are initially enhanced with friendly biologicals that (under a microscope) resemble “pac men” - these breakdown sludge particles. The enhanced fluids are aerated during the next stages. This eliminates any offensive smells and further breaks down contaminants. Inorganic matter like gravel, sand, and the like is removed early on in the processes.
The highly diluted soup (roughly 2.9 MILLION gallons per normal day) proceeds to one of four settling tanks which are 266 feet by 30 feet by 14 feet deep. Here, the now treated sludge is extracted and pumped to a nearby building where it is further “de-hydrated” before loading for transfer to the local landfill. Residual water is pumped to the nearby round clarification tanks which are stocked with goldfish of various sizes. These fish function like canaries do in mines.
Rochelle already treats the waste water from nearby Creston. Discussions are currently under way to provide similar services to Hillcrest, Steward, and Kings. This is in keeping with present preferences by the EPA/IEPA to encourage using regional waste water treatment facilities. Building (or expanding) a stand-alone site now takes a MINIMUM of 3 to 5 years!
When fluids leave the clarification tanks for final processing, they may be chlorinated (then de-chlorinated) if necessary. The five operators on duty take constant water samples throughout the process to insure that the levels of just about everything imaginable meet (or surpass) Illinois EPA standards. When the water finally leaves the treatment facility, it is actually cleaner and more potable than the water in the stream it joins. Now THERE is something to contemplate!!!
Our banking and financial systems are facing breakdown because of the toxicity of the accumulated build up of Cleverly Rigged Accounting Paper (CRAP) which must be dealt with timely and removed from the systems. The US treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank are looking to armies of attorneys, accountants, financial types, and TRILLIONS of dollars for the fix. They are perhaps looking to the wrong professionals. By TH*NK*NG along the lines of waste water treatment solutions maybe they should be seeking the knowledge, experience, and expertise of qualified sanitary engineers instead. Who knows, maybe such a team could deal with and send the toxic financial sludge on its way in 17 hours? We could only hope and pray for such a quick solution.
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
Copyright 2008 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This story was published on April 20, 2009.