Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Visit to Downers Grove Sanitary Facility

Recently, I had the pleasure of touring the Downers Grove Sanitary District’s facilities. Nick Meninga, General Manager spent a morning showing around his tidy and well maintained facility.  Although this is a relatively “small” facility servicing 60,000 the process is very similar to the huge facility that processes Cook County’s sewage. The main difference with the Downers Grove facility is that the Sanitary District manages not only the treatment facility but the sewer pipes that lead from the user to the plant. This is an important distinction because it allows the District to maintain and upgrade sewer pipes within its own budget. Chicago sewer pipes are not maintained by the MWRD and so they must depend on other governmental agencies to prioritize replacement. (Some of our sewer pipes are over 100 years old.)
What strikes me in the plants I have visited is the tremendous commitment workers have to maintain the best possible service. Everyone, from operators, scientists, engineers, managers and the trade’s people take great pride in their work even if most of us flush and forget. 

Blowers play a very important role in waste water treatment. They aerate the water so that microbes can thrive and do the job of cleaning our waste.  These are some of my favorite shapes in the plant infratructure at the Downers Grove Sanitary District.

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