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Wastewater plant possibly viable for reuse

LAWTON, Okla._In the hunt for alternative water resources, the city of Lawton has been weighing several options.

Even if voters turn down the city's 2016 CIP proposal at the polls Tuesday, they are still looking into the possibility of reuse water.

Monday, we toured the city's waste water plant, which provides water to PSO for their cooling systems and learned how this plant could be converted for domestic reuse.

Assistant Director of Water and Wastewater, Afsaneh Jabbar, said provisions to make waste water safe for consumption are far more stringent than what have been set for industrial use, but the waste water plant does give the city a good foundation for their reuse system.

"Our next venture will be to treat it fully, to the fullest that level that we can and then discharge it and then recover it after discharge," Jabbar said.

She said the wastewater plant supplies about 10 million gallons of water to PSO each day to cool their generating stations; should the plant be  re-purposed, at least five million gallons could be treated and released into either Nine Mile or East Cache Creek.

Once in the creek, the water will go through a process Jabbar calls "river filtration," which simply means, letting nature work its magic.

"Then we install our wells downstream from here and then recover that water and then send it to the water plant," Jabbar said.

The wells that would be drilled near the creek are not the same as the ground water wells, which would be installed across the city, these will be specifically designed to catch the river filtered water.

Once the water is piped back to the water treatment plant, it would be treated again  before coming out of your faucets.

"At that time it won't be wastewater anymore, because it has met the permit limit and it has been discharged. It will be like taking water from the lake,” Jabbar said.

However, all of these treatment processes would call for upgrades to both plants. One possibility is to increase the levels on the ultraviolet decontamination; another is the aeration system.

"By expanding we remove nutrients which is phosphorus and ammonia. We leach out the phosphorus, and de-nitrify the ammonia."

Jabbar estimated that project could cost about 30 million dollars and said there are many variables that go into deciding the most cost effective way to increase the city's water supply, and letting nature help will cut down on the cost.

If the city decides this is a cost-effective option to diversify its water sustainability, Jabbar said it could take up to two years to make the necessary the upgrades.

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