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Historical Milestones for Wastewater Treatment in Columbus


oldsewerguys

1812 Columbus is founded near the confluence of the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers.

1814 Columbus is established as the state capital of Ohio.

1834  Columbus is incorporated as a city with a population of 3,500 people.

1841 First sewer in Columbus is constructed. With no form of wastewater treatment, it was discharged directly into the Scioto River. Back yard “necessary houses” are still common.

1848-50 Broad Street sewer is financed and construction begins. Population is approximately 18,000.  

1852 A Spring Street area creek is enclosed in a covered sewer; however, by 1855 it is leaking badly.

1870 The population of Columbus approaches 31,000. A total of 6.77 miles of sewers are conveying waste to the waterways.

1872 Columbus places its first “waterworks” in service and begins laying both water and sewer lines. The “waterworks” consists just of a station pumping directly to the water mains, with the water supplied from a 20” diameter well and a brick infiltration gallery, both located on the east bank of the Olentangy River just upstream from its confluence with the Scioto River.

1880 The long-feared mystery illness at the Ohio Statehouse known as “Statehouse Malaria” (or “Miasma”) was finally found to be caused by a contractor having connected the building’s “water closets” to the ventilating flues instead of the public sewers. The effects on workers and visitors to the building had been a problem dating back to 1861 when the building opened. After the discovery, 150 barrels of decayed, dried toilet waste were dug up and removed, the sewers were finally hooked up, and the illnesses disappeared. Population had grown to 52,000. Water service was supplying approximately 2.2 million gallons per day (MGD) with the majority of this water routed back to the receiving streams through approximately 23.5 miles of public sewers and open ditches.

Local historian, Ed Lentz, author of the published book As It Were and freelance writer for This Week Newspaper summed up the decade's sewer work: “The original idea had been to build a sewer which picked up the 2 contents of most of the downtown sewers and run it parallel to the Scioto until it emptied into the river well below town. Fearing lawsuits by property owners outside town, the city stopped the project after it crossed the Ohio Canal near the breweries and let it empty into the river at that point. That point happened to be a rather flat flood plain which rapidly became, in the words of City Engineer John Graham, ‘an elongated cesspool emitting disagreeable and pestilential odors along its entire line for a distance of nearly a mile.’ Responding to this, city officials built yet another set of trunk line sewers serving the growing city in the 1880s. This project was supposed to cost $150,000 - an enormous sum for that period. It ended up costing $350,000. An investigatory report of the period explained why: ‘The Council and its officers, it seems, did not know that lumber would be required in making the excavation. They did not know a superintendent would be necessary . . . they did not know that the discharge of a main sewer into Alum Creek, just west of the Lutheran College, would render its buildings uninhabitable.’"  

1890 Census data indicates that 88,000 people called Columbus home by this time. The water and sewer line infrastructure continued to expand. Water usage averaged nearly seven MGD, with the majority returning to the three receiving streams -- the Scioto River, the Olentangy River and Alum Creek -- via 77.7 miles of sewers. The existing sewers conveyed wastewater and stormwater runoff to various discharge points throughout the city along these three stream segments. It was estimated that 90 percent of the sewered areas discharged into the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers. With the marked increase in growth and associated wastewater discharges, records indicated that the pollution in Scioto River was becoming increasingly intolerable to the citizenry during the dry summer and early fall low flow periods.

1892 Construction of an intercepting sewer was completed that picked up these numerous discharge points and conveyed them to a common outfall below the city. Although this relieved the immediate stench downtown, the conditions south of town deteriorated to the point that the citizens brought their complaints to the Ohio Board of Health.

1898 City Engineer Julian Griggs submits a report on the need for wastewater treatment. In addition to improvements to the collection system, he proposed that a sewage treatment works be built consisting of mechanical screening and double filtration at a rate of a half million gallons per acre a day, with a total treatment capacity of 20 MGD. The report further advised that two acres be constructed and operated for a full season to validate the design prior to fully developing the remaining 38 acres. The report was based on investigations by Griggs and John W. Alvord, and attempted to assess solutions to the local needs in the context of the best English and American practices in regard to sewage treatment and disposal.

By 1900 144 miles of public sewer exist, providing about 80% of the population access. It is a combined sewer system with outlets to Alum Creek and the Scioto River, untreated, creating a public nuisance. Population has surpassed 125,000. City leaders appoint a sewer commission and Griggs is assigned as the Sewer Commission Engineer. As in the 1898 report, the commission recommends building a modern sewage works, but also offers a multiple septic tank holding system to provide 12 hours of detention time as a lower cost alternative. Various bond issues to finance construction are pursued. Engineering as a profession is emerging and various capital improvement projects for sewers are planned or underway.

1901 The Ohio Board of Health rejects the commission’s lower cost alternative as inadequate to serve its purpose during low stream flow conditions. Shortly thereafter, the city’s Director of Public Improvements retains the services of a consulting engineer to review and advise the city with reference to “the whole sewage problem.” The engineer, Rudolph Hering, submits a report recommending the improvements originally proposed by Griggs: additional sewers, a pumping station, a force-main and treatment works consisting of septic tanks and intermittent sand filters. The report further recommends “that the filters were not to be operated during those periods of relatively high water when the sewage could be disposed of on the basis of four cubic feet per second per 1,000 population.” He also advises the city to conduct a pilot study of the proposed treatment works to determine the advisability of building the full size plant, using septic tanks or settling basins. The board approved the plan on July 2, 1901, although there were reservations regarding the practicality of septic tanks based on the local conditions. No additional action was taken until a bond issue was put before the voters and approved in November 1903.

1904 A sewage testing station was constructed in 1904 near the Main Sewerage District Outfall to evaluate not only intermittent sand filters, but contact filters, coke strainers, chemical precipitation, septic treatment, plain sedimentation and sprinkling filters (photo) that had proved themselves in several applications in England. Sprinkling filters had never been fully tested under severe winter conditions, and there were questions about their suitability in this application. Recommendations from the evaluation presented in the Report on Sewage Purification dated November 10, 1905, by George A. Johnson, Engineer in Charge, Sewage Testing Station, are as follows:

  1. "Preliminary clarification of the sewage in basins holding on an average about an 8-hour flow operated on the basis of the septic treatment.
  2. Purification of the septic effluent to a non-putrescible state by sprinkling filters at an average net rate of two million gallons per acre daily.
  3. Final clarification of the effluent of the sprinkling filters in basins holding an average flow of about two hours.

    This process produces a non-putrescible effluent of satisfactory appearance and from which about 90 percent of the bacteria in the raw sewage are removed.”

SprayersAtFiltrationPlantThe Gregory paper describes the full wastewater and water program in great detail, credits the outstanding work of the sanitary engineering visionaries, including premiere figures of both national and local reputation in chemistry, plant operations, and engineering who participated in the program, and the paper contains technical discussion of the program by 25 such luminaries. Among that discussion and comment were the remarks of Allen Hazen, who had done consulting work on the hydraulics of the Columbus program. Hazen had been a founder of Noyes & Hazen, ancestor firm of today’s Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. He developed many of the basic methods of sanitary engineering, including the “Hazen-Williams Formula” that properly describes the flow of water in pipes.

Construction began immediately on the new treatment works located approximately two miles south of the existing outfall. Flow was delivered to the new treatment works through a 36” force main from the Main Sewage Pumping Station. This station, although larger, was similar to the East Side Sewage Pumping station, and was equipped with a sand catcher to remove gritty material and bar screens with 1” openings in front and ½ “ in the rear to protect the centrifugal pumping equipment. Although the east side station used natural gas combustion engines to drive the pumps, those at the main pumping station were originally driven by steam. The total wastewater and water improvements needs of Columbus at the time were addressed in a combined program of contracts which were the largest, most expensive public works undertaken in the history of the city, and which were reported in the “Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Volume LXVII (1910)”, in Paper No. 1146, The Improved Water and Sewage Works of Columbus, Ohio by John H. Gregory, ASCE.

Plans1908

Web196_06-30-1908

1908 Construction of the “Improved Sewage Works”, Columbus’ first wastewater treatment plant, located just south of the crossing of the Scioto River by Jackson Pike (State Route 104) is complete and put into service. The plant was designed to treat 20 MGD, with a maximum hydraulic capacity of 45 MGD. It consisted of septic tanks, followed by stone-filled “sprinkling filters”, followed by final settling tanks. The sprinkling filters, an attached-growth configuration of aerobic biological treatment, would be a precursor of later “trickling filter” attached-growth biological treatment systems. Population is now 170,000 and 270 miles of sewer exist.

The aim of the program had been the enhancement of the public health and safety; the Gregory document noted that Ohio Board of Health statistics for Deaths From Typhoid Fever show an average death rate for Columbus of 115 persons/year from 1905-1908. The “Improved Water and Sewage Works” went into service in the fall of 1908, and the same statistics showed only five total deaths from Typhoid for the first six months of 1909. These results were achieved for the following costs shown in the Gregory paper:

Construction Costs - Water Works

1,726,970

Construction Costs - Sewage Works

1,198,180

Land Costs

150,850

Engineering Costs

236,830

Grand Total, Program Costs

$3,312,830

 

1910 During the early years of operation of the new plant, it became evident that the preliminary septic tanks were inadequate to assure good solids separation during extreme dry weather sanitary flow conditions. The grade of the sewers and long residence times of the wastewater in the collection system “result in the delivery of a stale sewage.” The city chose to modify the basins to the “Emscher System” introduced by Dr. Imhoff. A small pilot testing tank of approximately 35,000 gallons was constructed in 1910 and put into operation in 1911. Success of this tank led to construction of full size Imhoff modifications to the existing septic tanks. Between 1910 and 1915, other infrastructure improvements included replacing of natural gas and steam powered prime movers for both pump stations with electric motors. In spite of the recent improvements, Columbus was “behind the eight ball.” From the city’s 1915 annual report: “The severity of the problem at Columbus may be realized from the statement, previously made, that 20 million gallons of sewage are discharged into a stream whose discharge sometimes reaches a minimum of five MGD.” Population was 181,000. Water consumption was in excess of 14.4 MGD. Sewer infrastructure had increased to 277 miles.

1917 The work on the Imhoff Tanks was complete. From the annual report: “There is entirely too much pollution of the stream above the treatment works. This pollution should be stopped and we recommend that this be brought to the attention of the proper city, township, or county officials.” In addition, the report for the sewage purification works at Jackson Pike also was already indicating that the treatment process was overloaded and had solids disposal problems. The drying bed operations were analyzed and it was determined that a depth of six to eight inches “gave a good dry cake without objectionable odors . . . Utilization of this sludge as a marketable fertilizer is now under investigation with the cooperation of the garbage reduction works.” City population was estimated at 220,000.

1925 The five-day biochemical oxygen demand tests were standardized using a 20-degree Celsius incubator. Side-by-side comparisons were made with the previous one-day 37-degree Celsius test.

1927 Growth outpaces treatment plant capacity with population now at 315,000. State Board of Health orders clean up of Scioto River pollution levels. Plans are drawn up for a new plant. The Olentangy-Scioto Interceptor Sewer (OSIS) main line sewer goes into design.

1934 Construction on the Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant, based on the activated sludge process, begins at a site immediately adjacent the 1908 “Improved Sewage Works.”

1908 – 1937 Period Summary The original treatment plant provided treatment of the area’s wastewater with operations intended to reduce nuisances during low flow stream conditions. Population increased and additional upstream sources of pollution increased reliance on the system as a primary means of treating wastewater. Solids handling was originally thought to mean temporary storage until such time that flow rates in the river were sufficient to allow for assimilation of the accumulated solids without malodorous impacts to the river. Solids handling improvements and practices not included in the original plant were added. These included sludge drying beds and lagoon storage of sludge. The sewer system during this same period continued to grow, reaching 777.6 miles to support a population of 310,000. Water usage had increased to an average of 31.5 MGD.

1937 In November, the primary treatment system portion of the new activated sludge wastewater treatment plant at Jackson Pike was brought on line, with a capability of treating 50 MGD. Only 19 employees are responsible for the treatment process at this time. Population surpasses 315,000.  

1938 The new activated sludge plant process was commissioned. The remainder of the year was spent evaluating equipment and developing operating methods. The plant consisted of influent head works with screens and pumping, four grit chambers with dedicated/integrated primary tanks, eight aerators, and eight final clarifiers. Solids handling consisted of eight anaerobic digesters, sludge drying vacuum filters and one multiple-hearth sludge incinerator. Treatment capacity was rated at 50 MGD.

1939 The plant was still evaluating equipment and processes. The “Achilles’ heel” during the commissioning was a strainer that prevented proper operation of the sludge concentrators. Unable to resolve this issue, the city cancelled the contract. In spite of this setback, water quality in the Scioto River downstream of the wastewater plant showed a marked improvement with regard to dissolved oxygen and BOD5 (biological oxygen demand) over the upstream sampling station, documenting the effectiveness of the new treatment process.

1940 The plant operations and equipment issues were resolved and the plant averaged 94.1 percent removal of suspended solids and 91.8 percent BOD5 removal while treating 18,147.4 million gallons for the year (49.7 MGD).

1941 Treatment increased to 53.9 MGD while treatment efficiencies remained high at 95 percent suspended solids removal and 91 percent BOD5. Solids handling remained an issue at the plant as solids disposal equipment deteriorated. Digestion was used to reduce the volume of solids requiring disposal. The digesters had problems with their heating coils as well as cracks in the concrete lids due to overfilling. Incineration was the preferred method of sludge disposal. The challenge, then as now, was the severe operating conditions for the incinerator caused by widely varying temperatures, sludge feed rates and moisture content. The recommendation was that supplemental incineration facilities were needed if complete disposal of residuals was to be accomplished by incineration. One problem noted in the annual report: “During the process of filtration of the conditioned sludge a deposit of a CaCO3 compound is precipitated out of and deposited on the filter screen, in the filter piping and filtrate pumping system. This deposit gradually builds up to the point that the capacity of the equipment is greatly reduced. It is therefore necessary, in the absence of any known positive method of preventing this deposit, to periodically dismantle the equipment and clean it up. The filter surfaces or screen is cleaned by dissolving the deposit by means of an acid bath, but piping must be cleaned by hand, drilling, chipping, vibrating or other methods being used to clean same.” The wet stream portion of the plant was not immune to problems; influent screens also needed considerable attention. The grit removal system was modified to help distribute flows equally across the chambers and the grit collection mechanism required a considerable amount of repair and replacement work. New mechanisms were to be installed in 1942. Gas-powered diesel engine generators were operated more efficiently, burning digester gas and supplemented by a new natural gas supply line to keep them running during periods of low digester gas production. To reduce dependence on city potable water and improve operation economy, a well water supply system was installed for all purposes other than human consumption.

1942 The plant treated 19,087.6 million gallons for the year (52.3 MGD), while averaging 93 percent removal of suspended solids and 90 percent BOD5 removal. New screens were installed, which eliminated one of the original design constraints in the original plant. Nonetheless, problems persisted with grit deposition in the lower reaches of the OSIS immediately upstream of the influent pump station. The plant still remained handicapped with grit removal problems, due to these design difficulties. Modifications were made, and 1,100 tons of grit were removed for the year. New thickening centrifuges were installed to thicken waste activated sludge. Training issues and reliability of equipment limited operation to eight hours per day. From the annual report:

“The effects of the war have been a factor of increasing importance in maintaining a high degree of plant efficiency, both from the standpoint of delay or inability to obtain critical materials or parts for worn out machinery and from the loss to war industry, or through induction, of trained personnel.

We have been forced to the use of substitute materials in some cases and have also had to adapt ourselves to the necessity of turning more and more toward manufacturing, in our machine shop, the parts which we can produce out of salvaged materials.

General plant issues: The main condition now to be corrected is one of bad drainage on the roadways about the plant. It is hoped that ultimately gutters and curb can be installed throughout the roadway system and sufficient slopes provided for proper run-off.” Note: These drainage problems are finally expected to be largely addressed in a modern-day construction program to begin in 2008.

1943 General plant issues from the annual report: “We wish again to call attention to the fact that this plant has reached its design capacity of 50 MGD and that serious thought must be given to expansion of facilities to handle higher flows . . . It is folly to add to or augment the capacity of the sewerage system when the present treatment facilities are inadequate to handle the resulting increased flow.” The collection system had grown to 868.3 miles.

1945 With the end of the war, the hope was that much-anticipated repairs and improvements to the treatment plant would be forthcoming. The demands on the treatment plant continued to increase and by late 1947, parts and supplies were still on backorder from 1945.

1948 A new grit facility was installed in the OSIS at the site of the old pump station 1.5 miles north of the plant, to correct the grit problems related to inadequate velocities in the lower OSIS. Attempts were made to flush the material out of the sewer during the construction work, but were unsuccessful. This outage required the plant to be off-line for the last two months of 1948 and the first five months of 1949. A new diffuser system was installed in the aeration tanks replacing the original fixed, porous-plate ceramic diffusers with swing diffusers, because the latter could be removed and serviced individually without the necessity to take an entire aeration tank off-line for an extended period. Modifications to the vacuum filtration system were made, and the existing multiple-hearth sludge incinerator furnace had a failure necessitating an unscheduled shutdown. A weigh belt system was designed to help quantify the volume of sludge being incinerated. The collection system was 877.4 miles.

1949 Construction was completed in phases on the wet stream portion of the plant and the plant came back on line starting in May with full treatment available beginning in July. Improvement plans were being developed to further expand the plant to bring capacity up to 80 MGD. Construction of a new digester system continued in the solids handling portion of the plant. Additional problems arose in both the sludge filtration section and incineration sections, requiring extensive rebuilding and overhauling of equipment including major refractory work. The collection system was at 897.5 miles.

1950 An ordinance creating the Division of Sewerage and Drainage in the Department of Public Service was passed by Columbus City Council. Nearly 200 persons are employed in the new division. Most of the capital improvements projects begun in 1947 had been completed. Those projects included grit collectors, modifications to air diffusers, modification to primary tanks, and extension and enlargement of the power generating station. This work allowed the plant to increase treatment capacity from a maximum of 50 MGD to a peak flow of approximately 80 – 85 MGD. Average daily dry weather flows were typically in the 65 – 70 MGD range. Rain events of greater than .5” precipitation resulted in flows that exceeded treatment capacity. Full usage of the completed work is dependent upon future additional treatment improvements to keep up with the rapidly expanding city. The solids handling section was plagued by refractory repairs and rabble arm failures. The existing vacuum filtration system had additional components wearing out. Further modifications to dewatering and to the incinerator, as well as a proposal to install a new, additional incinerator were identified. Again, funding availability for the proposed improvements would dictate if and when the work would commence. The population of the service area surpassed 500,000.  

1952 Performance of the new grit facility was satisfactory. The plant was severely overloaded during wet weather, and bypassing a portion of the wastewater flow was practiced during high river stages. During dry summer months, the plant treated all flow. Solids handling problems plagued the plant in multiple areas. Supernatant from the digester system could not be cleaned up sufficiently to allow return back into wet stream processes, and so it was pumped to a storage lagoon. The vacuum filtration units were over 20 years old and could not process all sludge requiring disposal. The existing incinerator could not handle all the sludge generated, so a facility to load trucks hauling sludge to landfill disposal was also in service. Unfortunately, the existing load-out crane system needed repair and parts were no longer available. When all these problems were coupled with the worn-out condition of the trucks that the plant received from the Refuse Collection Division to haul sludge, the plant was having extraordinary difficulties operating and maintaining the equipment. In fact, difficulties were such that management was forced to curtail allowing employees to take vacation during the summer.

1953 Performance continued to deteriorate as dry weather forced the already overloaded plant to treat nearly all flows year round. The average for the year was 68.7 MGD with critical treatment April through September of 70.5 MGD. This was 20 percent above design of 50 MGD with no process redundancy. The recommendation was that the planned expansion to 80 MGD was insufficient to provide a 20 percent reserve capacity to allow for partial shutdowns during emergency conditions.

1954 An engineering report was prepared by Uhlmann & Associates, Consulting Engineers (ancestor of BBS Corporation, now a part of CH2MHILL). The report provided design concepts and data for a proposed treatment plant: “to serve that part of the City of Columbus and contiguous urban area which lie east of Alum Creek and north of the confluence of Alum, Blacklick and Big Walnut Creeks. The new, second treatment plant for the Columbus area would be served by an Intercepting Sewer 9’ in diameter with a hydraulic capacity of 227 MGD. A second proposed intercepting sewer of 72” would be added later, contributing an additional capacity of 132 MGD.” The proposed plant would be sized at an initial 40 MGD treatment capacity, approximately two times greater than the existing dry weather flow at that time, but only 20 percent of the proposed intercepting sewer’s hydraulic capacity; the additional sewer capacity would allow for growth in the service area, coupled with expansion of the new treatment plant. The go-ahead was given to improve the solids handling and treatment capacity at the Jackson Pike plant, and the report on the proposed treatment plant improvements presented two options, conveyance and treatment of the solids from the new proposed plant at the Jackson Pike plant or build solids handling/treatment at the proposed plant.

1955 Construction continued on the new pre-aeration tanks, primary tanks, 150 wet ton sludge incinerator, and upgrade of the electrical generating station with a new 1,250 KW engine-generator installed and placed in service. Average daily dry weather flow was 72.2 MGD.

1956 Nominal capacity of the plant was increased from 60 to 80 MGD. A new, modern sewage treatment plant to serve the Columbus Zoo was built and placed in operation in southern Delaware County. Experiments with the impacts on the plant of widespread use of household garbage grinders were being conducted at the Short Street Garbage Incineration Facility. Preliminary results from this work indicated a probable doubling of screenings removal, and an increase in quantity, quality, texture, and thickness of sludge accumulating in primary settling tanks. Should this program become common practice, heavier chains, flights, drives and other equipment would be required, as well as larger sludge pumps to mitigate clogging problems. A second 150 ton incinerator was being constructed in addition to revamping of the solids dewatering system to bring the incineration and solids production capacities up to 350 wet tons per day. Current influent pumping was approximately 120 MGD. A new 60 MGD pump was being installed. Existing mechanical screening equipment was the next large replacement program on the wish list. The additional 40 MGD of secondary treatment capacity was under design.

1957 This was the first full year of operation of the new primary clarifiers. (The overall Jackson Pike plant additions, being larger than the original activated sludge plant of 1937, became called the “A plant" treatment train and the older, lower-capacity plant being now designated as the "B plant" treatment train.) The new pre-aeration tanks were designed for 100 MGD, but due to hydraulic deficiencies, maximum throughput was found to be only 85 MGD. The existing eight aeration tanks were volumetrically increased in size by approximately 20 percent during this upgrade, but now are required to handle 50 percent more flow than the original aeration tanks. To compensate for this 30 percent gap between normal design retention criteria and the flows being treated, additional air delivery improvements were made by modification of two 15,000 CFM blowers originally furnished during the construction of the 1937 plant. The modification was the installation of booster blower units to allow these two blowers to be run in parallel with the other two 21,000 CFM blowers during periods of higher air temperatures and peak blower back pressures. Solids disposal problems were the major area of concern. Most of this was as a result of phasing simultaneous installation of new equipment while attempting to maintain a somewhat restricted operating schedule. The original sludge incinerator and the first of the two new 150 ton incinerators were plagued with ash handling and burner box problems. These issues delayed completion of the second 150 ton incinerator until an acceptable fix could be implemented.

1958 Most of the issues surrounding the solids handling problems with dewatering and incineration have been addressed and plant performance is beginning to improve.

1959 For the first time, the upgraded plant had been in operation for a full 12-month period. Columbus experienced a significant flood in January and average annual daily flow was 82.4 MGD. Removal efficiencies were 91 and 93 percent for suspended solids and BOD5 respectively. An industrial sewer upstream of the plant was found to be discharging untreated sewage direct to the Scioto River. Samples were collected and recommendations made to the proper authorities. Electrical demands of the plant were approaching 4,000 KW. The existing power generating power capacity at the plant was 3,250 KW with 1,000 KW of that coming from the two original 500 KW motor generators. The continued dependable operation of those older units was of critical importance to the plant.

1960 Wastewater treatment averaged 82.1 MGD with removal efficiencies of 93.7 and 92.5 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5 in the second full year of the expanded facility's operation. New impellers for #1 and #2 raw sewage pumps were purchased. Maximum raw sewage pumping rate was limited to 160 MGD due to hydraulic issues in the suction well. The collection system increased to 1,304.5 miles.

1961 Two engineering survey crew members died while inspecting newly-constructed sewer manholes. Although equipped with safety equipment, they failed to use it and paid the ultimate price. Wastewater treatment averaged 85.7 MGD with removal efficiencies of 83 and 88.3 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Lack of available electric power to operate the aeration blowers in the A plant with sufficient air and a solids removal problem in the secondary clarifiers in the A plant were the main contributors in the decrease in performance from 1960.

1962 Land was acquired along U.S. Route 23 south of Columbus for the construction of a proposed Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, the result of the further development of the Uhlmann and Associates design report of 1954. Two new 1,360 KW engine generators were installed during the year to increase available electricity for plant operation. Solids handling issues remained an issue; in particular, concentration, treatment and disposal of waste activated sludge. The inability to thicken the waste activated sludge resulted in digester overloading and supernatant recycle loads back into aeration. Wastewater treatment averaged 84 MGD and removal efficiencies remained poor at 83.7 and 87.4 percent for suspended solids and BOD5.

1963 In the Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant's third full year of expanded facility operation, wastewater treatment averaged 82.2 MGD with removal efficiencies of 91.5 and 93.3 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The collection system had now increased to 1,473.9 miles.

1964 The State Water Pollution Control Board requested an evaluation of the feasibility of tertiary treatment at the Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant. Wastewater treatment averaged 91 MGD with removal efficiencies of 85.9 and 90.9 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The collection system increased to 1,530.2 miles.

1965 Use of Polymer for sludge conditioning to facilitate dewatering was evaluated. Wastewater treatment averaged 104 MGD with removal efficiencies of 82.4 and 90.2 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was 1,568.2.

1966 Polymer for sludge conditioning continued to be evaluated. Lagoon storage of waste activated sludge was halted, resulting in significantly poorer plant performance. Wastewater treatment averaged 99 MGD with removal efficiencies of 61 and 77 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was 1,609.7.

Southerly1967

1967 The newly-constructed Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant (SWWTP) went into operation on August 14. At the Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant (JPWWTP), polymers replace lime and ferric chloride as sludge conditioning agents for the dewatering section. This resulted in incinerator capacity being reduced to 125 tons per day from 150 tons. Two aeration tanks were converted to supernatant oxidation tanks to aerobically treat digester discharges. The effluent from these tanks was discharged into the primary tanks where the solids readily settled out and the clarified liquid was introduced into the secondary treatment system. A noticeable improvement in the treatment process was observed in the later part of the year. Wastewater treatment at Jackson Pike averaged 85.7 MGD with removal efficiencies of 55 and 72 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was 1,678.3. SWWTP flow was 24.3 MGD with removal efficiencies of 80 and 91 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The service area population was 575,000.  

1968 The Whittier Street Storm Tank refurbishment work was completed in late 1967, and had a full year of satisfactory operation. Anheuser-Busch began production at its new Columbus brewery with annual production of approximately 1.7 million barrels. Wastewater treatment at JPWWTP averaged 82.1 MGD with removal efficiencies of 81.4 and 90.1 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP flow was 37.1 MGD with removal efficiencies of 70 percent and 83 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was 1,770.2.

1969 Barminutors (screens) at JPWWTP were plagued with problems requiring a reduction of flow through the plant. As a result, the Whittier Street Storm Tanks were used more than 140 times for primary treatment of flows in the OSIS. Nonetheless, wastewater treatment averaged 77 MGD with removal efficiencies of 91.2 and 93.2 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The city’s Municipal Electric Light Plant (MELP) provided 70 percent of the plant's electrical power, while on-site generation accounted for 30 percent. SWWTP flow was 40.2 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 72 and 84.5 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage now totaled 1,836.9.

1970 Congress and the White House concurred in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. New bar screens were added to the influent at JPWWTP during the year. Wastewater treatment at Jackson Pike averaged 78 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 90.9 and 91.8 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Solids dewatering and incineration operation were hampered by high moisture content in the sludge. Engineering work began on the design of a wet air oxidation system for sludge processing known as “Zimpro” processing. The MELP provided 79 percent of the electrical power, while on-site generation accounted for 21 percent. SWWTP average flow was 42.8 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 90.2 and 91.5 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was 1,878.8.

1972 Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which set the basic structure for regulating discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States. Jackson Pike’s treatment averaged 96 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 84.6 and 88.2 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Southerly’s average flow was 45.6 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 76.4 percent and 85 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was 2,004.

1973 The new Zimpro Heat-Pressure Treatment system was fully functional at Jackson Pike. “Clari-Vac” sludge collection/removal systems were added to four secondary clarifiers in the A plant. From an initial trial promoted by the device’s inventor, the basic development work to evolve this system into a marketable product was mostly accomplished at JPWWTP. The mid-1970s energy crisis impacted treatment plant operations, particularly at Southerly, by creating a shortage of fuel oil. Sludge normally incinerated had to be stored temporarily in a lagoon. A significant industrial load was introduced into Southerly, resulting in an approximately 30 percent increase in BOD5 load. JPWWTP treatment averaged 92 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 89.3 and 90.3 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP average flow was 46.3 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 53.7 and 75.6 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage increased to 2,051.2.

1975 JPWWTP treated an average flow of 75 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 88.7 and 92.7 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP average flow was 49 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 88.7 and 94.7 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was now 2,215.6.

1976 JPWWTP treatment averaged 72 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96.2 and 94.2 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The 110’ “Bio-Gas” storage tank for digester gas, a landmark for over four decades, was removed. Contracts were underway to install six dewatering centrifuges to replace the existing vacuum filtration sludge dewatering system. A general shortage of natural gas did not impact the plant, because of its ability to use either digester gas or fuel oil for incineration, process heat and building heat. A new heat recovery system was added to the incinerator scrubbers to provide heat to reduce the fuel requirements of the Zimpro heat-treatment process. SWWTP average flow was 46.4 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 89.4 and 92.7 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage increased to 2,273.4 miles.

1977 Congress amended the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act with the Clean Water Act, making it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters unless an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit is obtained. JPWWTP treatment averaged 73 MGD with removal efficiencies of 96.7 and 93.9 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP average flow was 48.8 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 92.3 and 92.4 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage was now 2,215.6.

1978 A severe blizzard hit Columbus and the downed power lines and frozen pipes impacted the plants, creating a challenge for about 10 days until normal operations could be resumed. The Division of Sewerage and Drainage (DOSD) started a pilot project for composting sludge with woodchips as a bulking agent. A three-year project to study the application of bio-solids to agricultural land began, in cooperation with the Ohio Farm Bureau and The Ohio State University. JPWWTP agreed to provide 40 tons of dewatered sludge each day to the study work. JPWWTP treatment averaged 69 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 93.7 and 91.6 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP average flow was 49 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 93.1 and 94.6 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system mileage reached 2,406.

1980 The division builds a new Compost Facility near farmland, and immediately across the Scioto River from SWWTP, with the help of the Ohio EPA. This process is seen as an environmentally friendly way to dispose of bio-solids by recycling the nutrients back into the land in a composted mixture with wood chips as a bulking agent. The name “ Com-Til” is registered for the resulting product. JPWWTP treatment averaged 82 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96.1 and 92.6 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP flow averaged 54.8 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 94.9 and 95.9 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system had reached 2,593.7 miles.

1981 Treatment at Jackson Pike averaged 82 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96.1 and 92.6 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. A new thickening centrifuge for waste activated sludge completed its first full year of operation. New scrubber systems for the JPWWTP incinerators were in operation. Southerly’s average flow was 52 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96.2 and 96.7 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Total collection system mileage was now 2,624 miles.

1984 The Clean Water Act was amended with conformance to the new standards required by 1988. The DOSD initiates the initial planning for what later becomes “Project 88,” a $208 million wastewater treatment plant expansion plan. It was named for the requirement that all the expansion work be functional by July 1, 1988, and would later become the new record holder as the largest capital improvements program in the history of Columbus. City Council passes an ordinance to create a Sewer and Water Advisory Board to review proposed customer rate changes and provide recommendations to council. The DOSD is moved from the Department of Public Service to the newly created Department of Public Utilities and Aviation, which now includes all of the revenue-producing utility enterprises of the city of Columbus. JPWWTP treatment averaged 84 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 95.9 and 90 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Average flow at SWWTP was 60.6 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96 and 94 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The collection system was 2,731.8 miles.

1985 JPWWTP treatment averaged 84.3 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 95.7 and 88.7 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Construction of the first contracts under the Project 88 program begins. SWWTP flow averaged 64.8 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 95.9 and 93.5 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The collection system grew to 2,780.8 miles.

1986 A section of an over 100-year-old downtown brick combined sewer under Broad Street collapses, and a Columbus lawyer driving a Mercedes Benz lands in the resulting 20-foot deep hole. The lawyer is uninjured, but the incident makes national and international news. JPWWTP treatment average is 83.7 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 94.9 and 90.7 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. SWWTP average flow is 63.3 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 95 and 93.9 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Sewer miles now total 2,836.6.

1987 Jackson Pike’s treatment averaged 79.8 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 94.2 and 95.4 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Project 88 was in full swing with rehabilitation of the secondary clarifiers in the A plant. The latest version of the Clari-Vac floating, vacuum sludge withdrawal units were installed to replace the initial four units from 1974, and to replace chain-and-flight, conventional collector mechanisms in all but the newest secondary clarifiers. The Ohio EPA negotiated with the city to impose the first NPDES permit conditions for a treatment plant in Ohio, which would require reduction in residual chlorine after disinfection of the plant effluent. A new disinfection system based on chlorination followed by dechlorination was therefore constructed. Southerly began land application of lime-stabilized waste activated sludge to farm land. Average flow at SWWTP was 58.4 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96 and 98.4 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The collection system grew to 2,903.8 miles.

1988 With Project 88 completed, the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant's design capacity increased to 114 MGD. The technical strategy of the program was to forego significant expansion at JPWWTP, which was by this time essentially "land locked" against further simple expansion, and expand SWWTP, which had far fewer site constraints and served the fastest-growing portions of the service area; and to allow Jackson Pike to provide a higher degree of treatment by conveying flow past Jackson Pike to Southerly. That conveyance to SWWTP was made possible by the completion of the 156” Plant Interconnector Sewer between JPWWTP and SWWTP, and allowed Jackson Pike to meet the new permit regulations by reducing its rated treatment capacity to approximately 60 MGD. Thus, about 20-25 MGD of wastewater flow tributary to the JPWWTP collection system was diverted to SWWTP via the Interconnector Sewer, beginning in July. Jackson Pike’s average flow treated was 82.9 MGD for the first half of the year, and 56.7 MGD during the second half of 1988, for an annual average flow of 69.8 MGD. Removal efficiencies were 92.6 and 95.5 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5 during the first half of the year, and 96.1 and 97.9 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5 during the second half of the year. SWWTP's average flow treated was 81 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96.6 and 98.5 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Collection system growth continued to a new total of 2,956.3 miles.

1989 The original concept of the program that became Project 88 was to satisfy the July 1, 1988, deadline for upgrading the combined treatment results of both plants, followed by further, extensive expansion at Southerly, which would set the stage for the Jackson Pike plant’s removal from service. The contention was that the cost of replacing JPWWTP's treatment capacity at Southerly, in addition to the costs of removal and site rehabilitation at Jackson Pike, would total $160 million. Some among the program team questioned that estimate, and the flaws of this analysis presented themselves as Project 88 drew to a conclusion. As Columbus had achieved considerable success in executing the work, there was tolerance of the new idea of re-evaluating the costs and consequences of continuing JPWWTP’s "decommissioning.” In fact, the U.S. EPA authorized and funded a new assessment of environmental impact, which affirmed the wisdom of not discarding the city's huge investment in the Jackson Pike plant. In consultation with the Ohio and U.S. EPA, the concept for a new $90-100 million program was developed, called the Jackson Pike Restoration. Construction on that program began in 1989, to the desired result of rehabilitating the unit processes sufficiently to restore their capability to reliably meet their NPDES permit requirements for an extended period, and provide only a slight enhancement to gross treatment capacity. Under the program, existing digesters were sequentially taken out of service for cleaning and replacement of all digester sub-systems, including covers, mixing, and heating and gas handling systems. Aeration tanks #1 and #2, which had previously been in use as supernatant oxidation tanks, were removed from service and the construction began to convert them back to aeration tanks. Construction also began on two additional secondary clarifiers, sludge gravity thickening, and solids handling improvements. Asbestos removal and abatement was done throughout the facility. Treatment at JPWWTP averaged 63 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 95.5 and 97.4 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. Southerly’s average flow was 102.6 MGD, with removal efficiencies of 96.8 and 98.8 percent respectively for suspended solids and BOD5. The collection system grew to 3,011.2 miles.

1990 At the mid-point of the Jackson Pike Restoration construction, both plants continued to meet the effluent limitations listed by the Ohio EPA. JPWWTP achieved 94.8 percent removal of suspended solids and 97.6 percent removal of cBOD5, while treating 55.7 MGD. SWWTP treated an average of 110.2 MGD while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 98.6 percent for suspended solids and 98.2 percent for cBOD5. Annual rainfall for 1990 was 53”, approximately 17” above normal.

1991 Rehabilitation of existing equipment was in full swing throughout the year. JPWWTP was also bringing new equipment online and interfacing with existing operations. Additional flows were diverted to Southerly during this period. A pilot project to utilize incinerator ash for various beneficial reuses was undertaken. JPWWTP achieved 94.4 percent removal of suspended solids and a 97.2 percent removal of cBOD with a hydraulic load of 48.4 MGD. SWWTP treated an average of 102.7 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 96.1 percent for suspended solids and 98.2 percent for cBOD5.

1992 The Jackson Pike Restoration program continued with the rehabilitation of existing equipment throughout the year. Plant operations were continually complicated by the challenges of bringing new equipment online and interfacing with existing operations. Additional flows were diverted to SWWTP during this period. A pilot project to utilize incinerator ash as a topping for ball fields received high praise from players at sites where it had been applied. With the creation of the Columbus Port Authority, the Columbus Department of Public Utilities and Aviation is renamed the Department of Public Utilities. JPWWTP achieved 94.6 percent removal of suspended solids and a 97.3 percent removal of cBOD5 with an average hydraulic load of 51.1 MGD. SWWTP treated an average of 101.2 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.7 percent for suspended solids and 98.8 percent for cBOD5. Annual rainfall for 1992 was 39.6”, approximately three inches above normal.

1993 Most of the remaining physical construction under the Jackson Pike Restoration was completed. Anaerobic digester rehabilitation was completed and an average of 6.5 dry tons per day of digested bio-solids were land applied for beneficial reuse. The division was authorized by City Council to establish a Stormwater Management Program section and a stormwater utility fee structure to fund stormwater capital improvement projects. Jackson Pike achieved 95.6 percent removal of suspended solids and a 98.4 percent removal of cBOD5, while treating an average hydraulic load of 60 MGD. Southerly treated an average of 89.6 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.1 percent for suspended solids and 98.2 percent for cBOD5.

1994 Construction under the Jackson Pike Restoration was finally completed and the JPWWTP was upgraded to 68 MGD sustained average daily treatment capacity with a wet weather treatment capacity of 102 MGD. Solids management improvements in the anaerobic digestion process resulted in an increase in bio-gas production, and a reduction of 31 percent in the quantity of solids requiring further processing. The bio-gas produced was recovered and utilized to provide supplemental fuel in the incinerators and as a fuel source for plant heating and process boilers. The plant achieved 97.2 percent removal of suspended solids and a 98.4 percent removal of cBOD5, with an average hydraulic load of 67.7 MGD. An average of 77.7 MGD was treated at Southerly while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.9 percent for suspended solids and 98.9 percent for cBOD5. Annual rainfall for 1994 was 31.6”, approximately 5” below normal.

1995 The Jackson Pike plant operated for the first time in recent years without major construction. During 1995, the plant achieved a 96.7 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 98.1 percent removal of cBOD5. The average hydraulic load was 85 MGD, a major increase from previous years, due to the constructed process enhancements and new operational flow strategies. SWWTP treated an average of 75.6 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.7 percent for suspended solids and 99.4 percent for cBOD5. Annual rainfall for 1995 was 45.3”, approximately 8.5” above normal.

1996 Jackson Pike received the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agency’s (AMSA) Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. During 1996 there was a 96.2 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 97.4 percent removal of cBOD5. The average hydraulic load was 84.5 MGD. SWWTP treated an average of 87 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.4 percent for suspended solids and 98.8 percent for cBOD5. Annual rainfall for 1996 was 45.6”, approximately 8.7” above normal.

1997 Jackson Pike received a second consecutive AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. During 1997, JPWWTP achieved a 96 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 97.9 percent removal of cBOD5. The average hydraulic load was 77.7 MGD. Southerly treated an average of 82 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.6 percent for suspended solids and 99 percent for cBOD5, and also received the AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Annual rainfall for 1997 was 34.3”, approximately 2.5” below normal.

1998 Jackson Pike received a third consecutive AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. During 1998, JPWWTP averaged a 96.8 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 98.4 percent removal of cBOD5. The average hydraulic load was 76.3 MGD. Southerly treated an average of 84.1 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97.5 percent for suspended solids and 99 percent for cBOD5, and received a second consecutive AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement. The annual rainfall for 1998 was 37.6”, approximately normal.

1999 Jackson Pike received a fourth consecutive AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. During 1999, JPWWTP averaged a 96.8 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids, and 98.4 percent removal of cBOD5. The average hydraulic load was 67.9 MGD. At JPWWTP, approximately 1.2 million cubic feet of biogas from the anaerobic digestion process was utilized in sludge incineration, process and building heat, further reducing plant dependence on natural gas. SWWTP treated an average of 83.3 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97 percent for suspended solids and 99 percent for cBOD5. Southerly received a third consecutive AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Annual rainfall for 1999 was 27.6”, approximately 10” below normal.

2000 The division employs 577 full-time positions in nine sections that includes operation of two 24-hour treatment plants, Compost Facility, a Sewer Maintenance Operations Center, a Surveillance Laboratory, Industrial Pre-Treatment Program and other services. Population served for wastewater treatment is estimated at 1,040,000. Sewer miles exceed 4,000. A new stormwater National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit is granted by the Ohio EPA. An update to the division’s Sewer Facilities Plan is submitted to the Ohio EPA for incorporation into their 208 Area Wide Plan.  An average of 156.6 million gallons of wastewater per day is treated at the wastewater plants.

Jackson Pike received the Platinum Award from AMSA for five consecutive years of exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Only a handful of facilities nationwide received this award in 2000. During this year, JPWWTP achieved a 96.7 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 97.8 percent removal of cBOD5, while treating average hydraulic load of 68.6 MGD. A major upgrade project to the plant electrical service began. The electrical upgrade project included replacement of existing PCB transformers with non-PCB containing transformers, and installation of new dual-feed switch gear and electrical distribution system was begun.

Southerly treated an average of 88 MGD, while maintaining removal efficiencies of 95.9 percent for suspended solids and 97.8 percent for cBOD5. Southerly received a fourth consecutive AMSA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Annual rainfall for 2000 was 42.9”, approximately 7” above normal.

2001 Southerly received the Platinum Award from AMSA for five consecutive years of exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Only 11 other facilities nationwide received this award in 2001. Southerly treated an average of 88 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 95.9 percent for suspended solids and 97.8 percent for cBOD5. Both plants began another round of construction, focused on certain process upgrades, and the phased installation of an integrated, real-time Plant-Wide Process Control System. At JPWWTP, Phase I of the new control system program began with installation of the system's communication "backbone" utilizing fiber optics. Concurrent with this installation, Phase II began the installation of personal computers, which are the Human-Machine Interface devices for the system. Also, the first of a group of contracts of solids handling improvements began with the demolition of the abandoned Zimpro Heat Treatment System, in order to allow the reuse of that system's former building. Jackson Pike had a 96.7 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 97.8 percent removal of cBOD5, while treating an average hydraulic load of 68.6 MGD. Approximately 1.2 million cubic feet of biogas from the anaerobic digestion process was utilized as auxiliary fuel for incineration, process boilers and building heat.

2002 Jackson Pike was recognized by U.S. EPA Region Five as winner of the First Place Award of Excellence for Outstanding Operation and Maintenance of the Water Pollution Control Facility in the Large Advanced Category. Construction of the new control system and several process improvement contracts at both plants created many continual challenges to plant management, operation, and maintenance. At JPWWTP, work went forward on construction of a sludge cake load-out facility and other sludge holding and dewatering centrifuge improvements; raw sewage pumping and primary sludge pump improvements; administration building upgrades including a new laboratory; new screens for preliminary treatment; and a new grit removal facility. The Department of Public Utilities signed a consent agreement with the state of Ohio to address sanitary sewer overflows. Initiatives and capital projects underway and planned to improve surface water quality through capital improvement projects and reduction of sewer overflows is announced to rate payers as “Project Clean Rivers.”

2003 At Jackson Pike, construction again dominated the plant, as construction work on thickening centrifuges replacement and improvements began. Design work also began on additions and improvements to the aeration blowers. A Gold Award from AMSA was awarded to JPWWTP for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control.

2004 Another wet year with its share of flooding challenges. Flows being treated at both plants were higher than normal, averaging 187 MGD for the two-plant system. The Franklinton Floodwall was declared complete. This new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-administered project removes approximately 2,800 acres on the west side of the Scioto from floodplain restrictions. This joint federal and city floodwall project allowed many property owners to drop their flood insurance. Both Jackson Pike and Southerly were again recognized by AMSA for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control with the Gold Award. The division's continuous improvement program continued, striving for greater efficiencies without sacrificing the level of service customers had come to expect. Total cumulative savings since the program began in 2000 stood at approximately $15.7 million. Columbus’ sewer line inventories continued to grow. Construction on an enlarged headworks began at SWWTP, to treat significantly greater wet weather flows. AMSA was renamed the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) to better identify its role in the public’s awareness. A second consent order was signed by the department with the state of Ohio, this time to reduce combined sewer overflows. Adding 87 miles to the results of a thorough review of existing sewers brought the total that Columbus maintained to 5,486 miles, which included: 2,782 miles of sanitary sewers, 2,537 miles of storm sewers and 167 miles of combined sewers.

2005 Columbus submitted a 40-year Wet Weather Management Plan to the Ohio EPA on July 1 to comply with the consent orders signed in 2002 and 2004. The plan identified an estimated $2.5 billion in capital work to increase capacity of the Columbus wastewater collection system and at the treatment plants. In January, Columbus' recently-completed floodwall project was challenged by an approximately 37.5 year flood event. This flood caused a delay in the SWWTP headworks construction, and acceleration costs to regain the headworks completion dates pledged to the Ohio EPA exceeded $10 million. The JPWWTP received a third consecutive NACWA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Jackson Pike achieved a 97.4 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 98.1 percent removal of cBOD5, on an average hydraulic load of 79.5 MGD. Southerly treated an average of 96.4 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97 percent for suspended solids and 99 percent for cBOD5. SWWTP received a second consecutive NACWA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control.

2006 Columbus receives approval from the Ohio EPA for the Combined Sewer Long Term Control Plan for interim projects to be done by 2010, related to the 2004 consent order. JPWWTP received a fourth consecutive NACWA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control, achieving a 97.4 percent removal efficiency of incoming suspended solids and 98.1 percent removal of cBOD5, while treating an average hydraulic load of 76.9 MGD. SWWTP treated an average of 96.6 MGD, while maintaining superior removal efficiencies of 97 percent for suspended solids and 99 percent for cBOD5, and received its third consecutive NACWA Gold Award for exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control.

2007 A ribbon-cutting event was held at SWWTP at the end of the year to celebrate completion of the new Southerly headworks. Southerly also received its fourth consecutive NACWA Gold Award for its exceptional achievement. For the second time, Jackson Pike receives the Platinum Award from NACWA for five consecutive years of exceptional achievement in wastewater pollution control. Only a handful of other facilities nationwide received this award in 2007.

2008 Columbus celebrates 100 years of wastewater and water treatment. Both plants have design and construction of extensive additions and modifications underway to meet the Wet Weather Management Plan program’s milestone of July 2010 for an available combined-plant peak treatment capacity of 450 MGD. The construction contract for the Jackson Pike hydraulics improvements to increase wet weather treatment capacity to 150 MGD is underway. At Southerly, the initial construction contracts on the new headworks are completed. The remaining design and construction of the new, multi-billion-dollar Project Clean Rivers/Wet Weather Management Program continues at both treatment plants while numerous improvements on the collection system are under construction and design.


As It Were: Sewers Began Flowing Smoothly Around Turn of Century
by Ed Lentz (reprinted with permission) 

The primary danger faced by people living in Columbus 150 years ago was not civil disorder, nor fire, or even the devastation of natural disasters like tornados and floods.

Even though the City of Columbus has had its share of all of these, the primary killer of people in early Columbus was disease. And the cause of that disease was the lack of sewers.

Columbus existed for more than 30 years without sewers. In the course of that time its population grew from 500 people to more than 8,000. But most of these people were living on the original town plat established in 1812. And for every person in town there was at least one or two horses, cows, sheep, dogs and even an occasional pet bobcat. All of these people and livestock generated an enormous amount of what one writer of the period euphemistically called "animal and vegetable waste."

Some of this waste was deposited in backyard privies or trash pits. Some was deposited in what residents called "gutters" but were really little more than shallow ditches on each side of the unpaved streets in the town. And some material, especially from businesses and stables and the like, was actually trucked to the river and dumped - thereby enriching the lives of the residents of Circleville and points south.

By 1848, this situation had become intolerable. Several local institutions joined with the city in financing a three and one-half foot sewer which ran under Broad Street from the river to Jefferson Avenue. Constructed of brick and buried 18 feet deep, the sewer did its job quite well for more than 100 years. It was bypassed by later improvements, but most of the sewer still carries the weight of the street above it quite well. A notable exception to that resilience was a 20-foot section which collapsed under a rather surprised but uninjured motorist in a Mercedes a few years ago.

And while this early effort at sewer construction seemed to work well, the same cannot be said for the projects which followed it over the next 40 or 50 years. In 1852, the rather large creek that gave Spring Street its name was enclosed in a covered sewer. This was viewed as a notable improvement since prior to that time one crossed the street on footbridges set at the major intersections. But by 1855, this sewer was leaking so badly that every basement along the street was knee-deep in foul-smelling water.

At the end of the Civil War, a "sewerage commission" reported that the laying of sewer lines in the city had no rhyme or reason. The lines did not connect one with another and whole parts of the downtown were not served at all. The answer to the problem was a new series of large "trunk" sewer lines which themselves would be connected to an "intercepting sewer" which would empty into the Scioto well below town. It was a logical, simple and forthright solution to a difficult problem. If the recommendations had been implemented in a sound workmanlike way, the result would have been helpful. They weren't, and the result was a nightmare.

The South End Sewer, draining most of what is now German Village, was so riddled with leaks that most of the wells along its route went dry as they drained into the adjacent sewer. The Fourth Street Sewer collapsed along 400 feet of its route shortly after its completion.

But the most exasperating problem occurred south of Town.

The original idea had been to build a sewer which picked up the contents of most of the downtown sewers and run it parallel to the Scioto until it emptied into the river well below town. Fearing lawsuits by property owners outside town, the city stopped the project after it crossed the Ohio Canal near the breweries and let it empty into the river at that point. That point happened to be a rather flat flood plain which rapidly became in the words of City Engineer John Graham, "an elongated cesspool emitting disagreeable and pestilential odors along its entire line for a distance of nearly a mile."

Responding to this, city officials built yet another set of trunk line sewers serving the growing city in the 1880s. This project was supposed to cost $150,000 - an enormous sum for that period. It ended up costing $350,000. An investigatory report of the period explained why. "The Council and its officers, it seems, did not know that lumber would be required in making the excavation. They did not know a superintendent would be necessary. …They did not know that the discharge of a main sewer into Alum Creek, just west of the Lutheran College, would render its buildings uninhabitable."

Another writer from the same period concluded that "All of which suggests the importance of choosing municipal officials on the basis of qualifications rather than that of political belief."

This cut to the core of the problem. Sewers were used as a political pawn in the 19th century. Partisan politics was largely governed by the spoils system in Columbus until well after the turn of the century. And some of the most important spoils were the lucrative paving, construction and repair contracts handed out by city officials to their friends and supporters. The main reason the sewers were built haphazardly and quickly was that the builders were non-professionals trying to complete the work as quickly as possible.

All of this began to change with the emergence of engineering as a profession and the rise of non-partisan capital improvement construction projects in the early 1900s. For the past 70-80 years, sewer construction and maintenance has been so efficient and effective that we view a sewer failure as an unusual event. And while that is as it should be, we often forget to thank the people who build and maintain the system we cannot see but without which, our city simply would not be.  

@ 1993 Ed Lentz. Lentz is a local historian, author of published book “As It Were,” and free-lance writer for This Week Newspapers.