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Panel gets wastewater treatment plant update

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Steven Burke

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Town Council heard a presentation and discussed plans for the upgrade and expansion of Front Royal's wastewater treatment plant during a Monday night work session.

GHD, an engineering and architectural firm, proposed a change in design that deals with a treatment process called BioMag.

The original process slated for use at the plant is proven technology that is already approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. However, the BioMag process technology allows nitrogen and phosphorus removal in a single system, according to GHD's principal manager, Thor Young.

There are also lower construction costs associated with the new alternative, because it requires very few additional tanks and other equipment.

"There's less of a footprint," Young said. He added that the system is far easier to operate.

While the BioMag process has yet to be implemented anywhere in Virginia, it can be found in surrounding states like Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Department of Environmental Quality needs to not only approve the process in Virginia, but also decide if a pilot period needs to take place. During the pilot period, one tank would be outfitted with the BioMag system to serve as a test.

Several other BioMag sites have used a pilot period, Young said. However, the test period could push the project back another 15-20 months.

Unfortunately, GHD representatives are unable to know if the Department of Environmental Quality will insist on the pilot period. While it can look to results of the process in other places and see positive results, the department might not be convinced since the plant's placement and environment are unlike the others.

At this point, town officials can agree to go with the new treatment process, Young said, but the rest is up to DEQ.

Council members asked Town Manager Steve Burke of his opinion on BioMag from an engineering standpoint.

"BioMag produces a process that is repeatable, a process that is simpler to operate and a process that will allow new people to come in and be trained," Burke answered. "I recommend the BioMag process."

Young noted that the new alternative would help to cut costs, but the project has a whole would still be a $45 million expense.

The proposed change will be an agenda item at Town Council's next meeting.

Other items expected on the agenda at the council's Jan. 9 meeting include:

• Gazebo parking lot modifications.

• Costs associated with a pavement management program.

• Town banner poles ordinance amendment to establish regulations for banner displays.

• Regulation of the town's social media i.e. Facebook and Twitter pages.

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