Earlier this year, Pinellas County in Florida closed the lid on an odor management issue that had been frustrating residents for the past few years. The county completed a 13-month, $2 million door project in which it completely redesigned a water treatment station in the town of Seminole.
“It’s like rotten eggs, really bad rotten eggs,” Kris Van Kirk said to a television reporter in 2017. “It’s a stench so bad it will make your stomach turn.”
The problem stemmed from a wastewater treatment facility that saw its components corrode over time. The system had been installed in the 1980s, but moisture and contaminants create highly corrosive conditions that attack metal and concrete structures, causing deterioration. Humid, coastal environments, such as those that exist in Seminole, also lead to degradation of components in wastewater treatment systems.
The solution that Pinellas County installed included new equipment, including a unit that “polishes” the ozone layer, helping to reduce odors that can escape from the wastewater treatment plant. Treatment of the ozone is a relatively new process in the wastewater industry.
The system is more effective than chlorine, and no chemical residues are left behind. Ozonation also prevents the regrowth of microorganisms, and ozone is created onsite, which reduces safety concerns and shipping costs. Seminole’s previous system included a chemical scrubber that lost its effectiveness over time.
“Chemical scrubber systems work well to a point, but we thought it was in our best interests to replace it,” said Tom Menke, Pinellas County Utilities Engineering Section Manager. “It’s biological, not chemical, so it should be better for the environment.”
The doors allow access to valves and pumps. The existing doors had become so corroded over time from moisture and contaminants associated with wastewater treatment. Photo by Talmage Brown-Ward.
The new plant in Seminole also includes the use of activated carbon, which removes organic and some inorganic substances. Workers also installed trickling filers to remove organic matter from wastewater, and the organic material is then degraded by aerobic microorganisms.
Other indicators pointed to the failing treatment system. Doors that allow access to pumps and mechanical equipment had also become corroded. “I was scared to walk on some of them because they were so corroded,” said Jake Warren of TLC Diversified, whose company renovated the system.
TLC Diversified replaced the doors with 16 new floor doors manufactured by The BILCO Company. The aluminum doors allow access to wells, pumps, and valves. Some of the doors were BILCO’s JD-AL H20 Doors, which are reinforced for AASHTO H-20 wheel loading. That feature allows heavy trucks and other industrial equipment to park on the door.
The new doors carry a 25-year warranty and are equipped with type 316 stainless steel hardware for superior corrosion resistance and BILCO’s patented lift assistance for easy, one-hand operation.
The station lies in the heart of Seminole, near commercial properties such as a home warehouse center, car wash, restaurants, and retail stores. At long last, the new treatment system provides relief from the foul odors that seeped into the community.
“I think this is a good solution,” Menke said. “I think it’s going to serve us well for the long haul.”