By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
The City of Great Bend Wastewater Treatment Facility processes more than one million gallons a day of domestic and industrial wastewater. Not often thought of, the wastewater plays a crucial role in a city’s operation.
Great Bend Public Works Director Jason Cauley said wastewater operators noticed last Thursday that the processing building was not receiving waste. Staff decided to vacuum out the Return Activated Sludge (RAS) box, a concrete container that collects sludge and returns it to the plant to keep the system healthy.
"We they started vacuuming that out on Saturday, they discovered there was about four feet of solid sludge in the bottom of that," said Cauley. "That's what ended up being our problem. We vacuumed that out, and now we're back to normal. We're getting our solids back to our process plant."
The treatment process allows the recycled wastewater to be returned to the Arkansas River without harm to the aquatic life or the environment. Cauley was not fully positive what caused the issue but was pleased the operators were able to identify the problem.
"One of our operators who has worked for us for about 10 years said he's never seen the RAS completely drained or emptied," said Cauley. "Our guess is that a silting process is maybe what caused it. We'll keep an eye on it. We know what to do in the future."
The Great Bend Wastewater Treatment Facility was first built in 1954 with a few major upgrades since the opening. Great Bend City Administrator Brandon Anderson informed the council it might be time to perform a comprehensive study on the city’s wastewater system to evaluate its condition.