$10 million of improvements begin at Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Haren Construction Company recently began work on $10 million of improvements at OWASA’s Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) near Finley Golf Course in southeast Chapel Hill. The project will:

  • Reduce electricity use at the plant by about 20% through more efficient biological treatment equipment.

The energy efficiencies are expected to save about $125,000 annually.

The NC Clean Water Revolving Fund is providing a 20-year no-interest loan of about $6.6 million to support the energy efficiency improvements. Compared to the cost of issuing bonds, the no-interest loan will save OWASA customers an estimated $1.7 million in interest costs, or an average of $85,000 annually.

  • Help meet pending State standards that further limit nitrogen and phosphorus levels in treated wastewater that flows into Morgan Creek, which is a tributary of Jordan Lake.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients which, when present in high amounts in waterways, can lead to excessive algae growth. Excessive algae can affect water quality and aquatic habitat, and increase the cost of treating drinking water. 

For information on the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. in OWASA’s treated wastewater, please click here or visit www.owasa.org, go to “What We Do” and see the page on wastewater management.

  •  Enhance odor control at the WWTP.

The contractor will cover additional treatment tanks at the WWTP and add equipment to clean up foul air from the tanks. The odor control improvements are the latest phase of work needed to meet OWASA’s goal of eliminating off-site odor from the WWTP. Operating costs of the odor control improvements will offset some of the energy savings noted above. 

“This is OWASA’s largest active capital investment project, and it will bring multiple benefits in future decades in terms of cost and greenhouse gas reductions, excellent quality of the treated water that we recycle at Morgan Creek, and being a good neighbor,” said John Kiviniemi, OWASA’s Wastewater Treatment and Biosolids Recycling Manager.

OWASA expects the project will be complete by December, 2014.

The OWASA webpage on wastewater and biosolids treatment and recycling is at http://www.owasa.org/wastewater-management

Contacts for more information: