MIDDLETOWN – The town’s Public Works Department has come up with repairs to a component of its wastewater treatment plant that could give town officials more time to explore options.

Christian Davis and Mike Wood told council members at a Monday night work session that the Public Works Department had come up with an idea to preserve the life of the bio-wheels.

The bio-wheels are large rotating drums where attached microorganisms are grown to consume pollutants and treat wastewater. They work as the main biological treatment portion of the overall treatment plan of the plant.

The bio-wheels are bowing, Davis said.

The idea is to reinforce the bio-wheel with 1-inch tubing with straps to return it to its proper shape and hold it in place, Davis said. Each strap can hold 20,000 pounds. They used this process about four weeks ago to correct one of the bio-wheels.

“That is doing well,” Davis said referring to the repairs made.

They estimate the repair could last two years.

Several town officials thanked the men and the department for giving the town more time.

“This two years is very beneficial to the town of Middletown, said Mayor Charles Harbaugh. “It allows us to get an engineering study done, and blueprints, and approval from the DEQ (The Department of Environmental Quality).

The town will continue to proceed with exploring other options. There is a committee meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. today to start to do just that, Harbaugh said.

In January, town officials and council members heard from Keith E. Lane, a professional engineer with Peed & Bortz LLC, about the plant’s overall condition and its bio-wheel treatment process. Lane reported that one of the bio-wheels had already failed with the other five in the process of falling apart, he said at that time.

The bio-wheels, however, are only one of the problems with the plant. There is still the issue of capacity.

Lane in January advised town officials to consider increasing its 400,000-gallon capacity.

The wastewater treatment plant is seeing monthly peaks of 350,000 gallons, Lane said.

The town has to consider future growth and the demand it would place on the plant, including The Village of Middletown, which is a development of 180 units under construction on about 60 acres near Lord Fairfax Community College.

Lane previously gave the town options for the plant:

• The town could rehab the existing plant at an estimated total cost of $2.3 million that would replace or repair the existing bio-wheels, replace existing influent pumps and controls, new mechanical screens and other work.

• A retrofit process change of the plant at an estimated total cost of $3.2 million. This would remove the bio-wheels and replace them with a modern system. Other improvements would be done as well. This would provide the potential for limited capacity increase.

• A major upgrade of the plant at an estimated total cost of $4.8 million. This would remove the bio-wheels and replace them with a modern system, and a new, larger basin would be constructed for increased capacity.

The town is still considering placing the cost of whatever repairs it makes onto the existing zero interest loan the town is paying on for the existing plant, Harbaugh said.

Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com