Water reclamation is a modern term for how we deal with an age old problem: What to do with the stuff we flush? More recently, we must examine how we do this without destroying the environment.
For many years, people thought the solution to pollution is dilution, so we dumped our waste into the nearest stream, river or lake. This wasn't too bad at first when it was just people and farm animals contribution to the waste. Then the Industrial Revolution came to pass. The steel and textile mills and other manufacturing plants started to spring up discharging their wastes into our waterways. In a matter of decades, it became clear that the waterways needed to be protected after a river in Cleveland, Ohio, actually caught fire and burned for days. In 1948 the Federal Water Pollution Control Act was voted into law. While this made things a little better, there still needed to be better controls in place and the Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted in 1972.
The Clean Water Act provided the basis for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, and with it the basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollutants from "point sources"* to waters of the United States. Section 402 of the CWA specifically required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and implement the NPDES program.
The City of Pickerington maintains a current NPDES permit for the water reclamation plant. The staff works to ensure that what flows from the plant is clean to protect our local and surrounding waters and meets the limits set out in the NPDES permit.
*Point sources are pipes or ditches that can be readily identified entering a waterway. Conversely, a "non-point source" is when chemical run-off from fields and parking lots enter a waterway.
In 1974 the Village of Pickerington built its first wastewater treatment plant and it was located at 525 Hill Road South. At that time, the plant processed 580,000 gallons per day from a population of approximately 3,880.
The administration building housed a process control lab, office, MCC (motor controlled center) room and restroom. The blowers and pumps were located on the first sub-level. In order to manually clean the bar screen and grit removal channels with a rake and shovel into trash bags, one had to go down a spiral stair three levels. Once cleaned, the trash bags had to be carried back up the three levels for disposal by our local waste hauler. This plant served the village until 1986.
In 1986 & 1987 the City completed its first expansion which was designed to improve capacity to 1.2 million gallons per day (MGD), nearly double the original volume. The administration building was converted to a maintenance shop and a new administration building was built. The new administration building housed a modern lab, a generator room, and a blower room. The MCC room doubled as the operators' office, and a locker room/restroom was built.
Attached to the rear of the administration building was the screen room and grit removal. Eventually, three static fine screens were in service with cyclone de-gritters located under them. This plant served until 1997 when construction was started on what was now the City of Pickerington's Water Reclamation Plant.
*Note: In 1991 Pickerington officially became a City with a population of approximately 5,645.
The 1997/1998 expansion moved the bulk of the process across Sycamore Creek which was designed to improve capacity to 2.58 MGD, again nearly double the previous volume. This version of the treatment plant was operated until late 2010. Population in the City at that time was approximately 7,836.
The administration building has since been remodeled, including removing all the equipment from the blower room and adding insulation and drywall, carpet and a drop ceiling, converting it to an office for the operators. The generator was relocated to south of the new blower MCC building. The generator room was converted to a kitchen/break room. Lastly, the old MCC room was cleared of unnecessary equipment and became the Superintendent's office.
In 2009-2010, with the City's population having grown to 14,669, upgrades were necessary to keep abreast of our disposal needs. We were then able to process our waste at a rate of 3.2 MGD. We are still operating at this rate and meeting the criteria of the EPA.
Located at 525 Hill Road South, the Water Reclamation Department Treatment Plant serves the greater Pickerington area. It is staffed by a crew of Ohio EPA-certified Waste Water Plant Operators.