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Sewage treatment plant upgrades move forward

– City Utilities is moving forward with its massive project to upgrade the sewage treatment plant to reduce overflows into the river.

On Wednesday, Fort Wayne Board of Public Works members unanimously approved a resolution to clean Digesters 1 and 2 at the Water Pollution Control Plant; bids will be taken in the next few weeks.

Engineer Mark Gensic said the other digesters have already been cleaned and readied for repairs and upgrades.

The digesters are where bacteria attack the biological matter in the sewage, converting it to suspended solids that can be settled out.

Other parts of the $35 million project will affect almost every process in the plant.

Overall, the project will increase the plant’s capacity by 25 percent, to 85 million gallons a day – enough to fill 129 Olympic-size pools.

Board members also approved a contract with Optimization Solutions Environmental for work at the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant. For $48,960, the company will analyze operations at the water plant to see where it can be more efficient in its use of chemicals to treat the city’s drinking water.

Gensic said the city has used the company in the past and saved $200,000 a year on chemicals, thanks to its work.

“It’s about getting the highest water quality achievable at the most effective cost,” he said.

The board also OK’d a contract with the Indiana Department of Transportation for right-of-way purchasing to widen State Boulevard.

The project, which has been in the planning stages for years, will straighten the road between North Clinton and Wells Street and widen it from Wells to Spy Run Avenue.

City Engineer Shan Gunawardena said the contract is being put in place now so that when the required studies are done, property purchases can begin immediately.

Officials had hoped to have a public hearing on the project in December, but the federal government, which is paying for 80 percent of the project, required a more extensive environmental study. That triggered a historical review as well.

Gunawardena said officials hope to have the public hearing this winter or in the spring.

Board members also approved spending $7,000 to upgrade part of a sewer line for Fuller’s Landing, a 44-home addition being built just outside the city limits by Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat is paying to install water and sewer lines to the neighborhood off Cook Road west of Huguenard, but city officials want part of the line to be oversized to accommodate expected growth in the area. The $7,000 will pay for the larger pipe.