The Salem Waste Water operations consist of the treatment plant and the sewer collection system. There are 4 full time Salem employees at waste water. Also, the management group of Aqua Utility Services functions as the “in charge operator” providing service on a three day a week basis.
The waste water plant is located at the end of Joseph Street. The goal of the waste water staff is to operate in such an environmental friendly manner that our presence goes unnoticed, to achieve this goal economically is a daily challenge.
The waste water plant has a yearly average flow of 1.2 million gallons per day. Heavy rains during the wet seasons can increase the waste flow to as much as 2.5 million gallons per day. The plant is equipped with 3 equalization ponds to deal with increased flows. Oxygen is mechanically introduced to the ponds for partial treatment, then the contents of the ponds are pumped back to the plant and fully treated as the wet weather subsides. The pond area serves host to a vibrant wildlife population and is a compliment to the urban environment.
Successful waste water plant operations are not an exact science. The plant requires daily adjustments and maintenance based on various factors. The adjustments that occur are largely based on in house laboratory analysis, city employee Troy Watts, a certified lab technician, heads up the laboratory at Salem. Lab work is done 365 days a year and all other of our plant employees have lab experience.
Aqua Utility employee Lowell (Wally) Howard prepares all state (IDEM) reports. These reports are detail oriented and must be submitted monthly, Wally’s 20 plus years experience in treatment plant operations is drawn on often to help make plant adjustments.
The sewer collection system consists of 75 miles of pipe and 27 pumping lift stations. Philip Burnett, waste water superintendent along with Branden Gates, and Phillip McClellan maintain the collection system. The past 2 years has seen numerous pipe repairs to help prevent sewer overflows. The waste water department also has a jetter truck, backhoe, and a dump truck in their plumbing supplies. It should be noted that all 3 of these city employees have their CDL license to better serve Salem. Hard work, modern equipment, and caring staff will go a long way to maintain the many miles of aging pipe to prevent sewer backups and manage overflows.
Wastewater employee Branden Gates assumes responsibility of the 23 pumping stations. Branden is an experienced electrician and has spent countless hours maintaining and repairing lift station problems. Preventative maintenance of these stations is one of many efforts to help the city and waste water department stay in compliance with IDEM.
The economic situation that exists today has forced city departments to lend a helping had to one another. The waste water dept. can proudly say that they have not fell short in this effort. Phillip McClellan has been a steady force to the water department with line repair and meter duty. Branden Gates serves as the city electrician, and in addition to all waste water maintenance can be seen in all other department tending to their electrical needs. Waste water employees go when and where there is a need city wide.
In conclusion, the waste water department performs and is on call to serve Salem 24/7 365 days a year. The department now operates on a stricter budget while performing many upgrades. The plant received the 2011 Southern Indiana class III plant of the year. The efforts of waste water operations maintain a pristine environment the city can be proud of for years to come.