Wastewater Treatment Plant needs repairs

Lawton_Lawton's Wastewater Treatment Plant needs some major improvements. Some spots are leaking water and some parts are so far gone, they don't even work anymore. So the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality ordered an analysis of the plant. A special City Council meeting was held Thursday night to see the results of that analysis before they are forwarded to the D.E.Q.

Council did approve the plan, but not without a number of questions and a short debate over the projected 10-million dollars that all the repairs will cost.  "We have some air blowers in our aeration system for example and those have failed, or one or two have failed, and those air blowers are what provides provide dissolved oxygen. And we need to keep that level of oxygen up," said Director of Public Works Jerry Ihler.

Then there are pumps, filters, and more that all need to be replaced. Many parts have been broken for a while. Some aren't even made anymore.  "We have taken parts from some other process and utilized them in a different process area because the equipment is compatible. And so we would take and move those over to keep that piece of equipment operating," said Ihler.

But the temporary fixes won't last forever and right now, the plant's not as efficient as it should be. "When we have pumps out of service, there's no way we can keep up with the capacity that comes in, we have to store them in holding tanks and what not."

So with D.E.Q.'s order to review the plant. Consultants told council what they need to keep the plant in compliance. Now, Lawton Public Works is ready to find the funding. They're hoping some will come from a possible stimulus check for 2 million. There may be some they can pull from the 2005 Capital Improvement Plan. But no debate as to what this means for Lawton's water bill.

"If we don't pursue with the design there's no chance of getting the stimulus money, so since we have to do the design anyway and will be required to do the design by D.E.Q., let's do it now, and go after that stimulus money." Lawton public works hopes to have the repairs started within a year.  It could take as long as five years to finish.