In working order

A group of Fort Dodge officials and city councilmen had the opportunity Thursday to view progress on a $39 million water and wastewater system improvement project to help benefit plants just west of the city.

The tour, which was conducted by the city and representatives from McClure Engineering Co., Fort Dodge, visited sites both within Fort Dodge and the ag-industrial park known as Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

The ag-industrial park includes CJ Bio America, Cargill and Valero Renewables.

The project’s aim is to create a system in which wastewater from the ag-industrial park travels to the wastewater plant in Fort Dodge, then travels back through the system so it ends up back at the plants.

Although the process begins with the ag-industrial park, the tour began at the waste water treatment plant in Fort Dodge.

Derick Anderson, northwest Iowa market president of McClure Engineering, explained the various changes that were being made to the plant.

“We’re building a third VLR (vertical loop reactor) tank and we’re working on the fourth and final clarifier,” Anderson said. “We’re also adding a sludge handling and mixing building just behind the administration building.”

A vertical loop reactor is a ditch designed for oxidation, and clarifiers are what sewage flows through.

Anderson said these additional pieces of equipment are designed for an increased flow of wastewater.

After visiting two wells located in town, the tour then went to the John W. Pray Water Facility, which was also remodeled for increased water capacity.

Another new addition to the water plant was a generator, which was installed in May.

Chad Schaeffer, the city’s director of engineering, business affairs and community growth, said the generator will help in the event the water plant loses power.

“If we have a power outage, we can keep the water plant up and provide water for the entire city,” Schaeffer said, “even though we might not have electricity coming to the plant.”

At the ag-industrial park, those on the tour visited various buildings and learned about their purposes. For example, in the booster station Anderson said the water pressure is increased before going back into the plant.

“We have three pumps here, but we have the ability to add two more,” he said. “There’s also room for two ground storage reservoirs.”

“The water that’s in the main out here is about 40 PSI,” Anderson said. “To service the customer, it needs to be at 70 PSI, and this boosts that pressure and takes it to the ag park.”

After its use in the ag-industrial park, the water goes into a pump station.

“It all flows into the pump station thanks to gravity,” Anderson said. “This is where we’re screening waste. We want to get the water clean. Anything harmful we want to get it out here.”

Once the water is cleaned, it goes back to the wastewater treatment plant where the process begins again.

Schaeffer said the purpose of the tour was to show city officials the progress of the project.

“We wanted to show the council and the mayor where money they’ve spent towards Cargill and CJ is going,” Schaeffer said. “We wanted to showcase the improvements.”

He said he’s happy with the progress so far.

“Overall it’s gone really well,” he said. “They’ve worked through the winter and during April and May when we had all that rainfall. It’s really gone well.”