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A major upgrade that will enhance the efficiency of the Bristol Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant and position the region it serves for future economic growth is expected to begin later this year, courtesy of a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA.)
Provided through the American Rescue Plan, the grant will allow the City of Bristol Tennessee and BVU Authority, joint owners of the plant, to install a state-of-the-art centrifuge system to separate water and biosolids from wastewater as it flows through the plant. The modern technology will replace a belt press system that was installed in the 1980s and will allow the plant to operate more efficiently. Increased efficiency ensures the plant can meet the current needs of the community and is prepared to serve additional residential, business, and industrial customers as economic development occurs throughout the region, said Bristol Tennessee Director of Utility Services Will Witcher.
“We continually monitor the plant to ensure all processes are working properly and to identify opportunities to improve efficiency of operations,” he said. “This latest grant will allow us to utilize current technology to replace a system that has served the plant well but is now nearing the end of its service life. It’s a significant upgrade and just one of many that we’ve made in recent years.”
Earlier this year, a $2.97 million project to upgrade the headworks grit removal system within the plant got underway. Once that work has been completed, the new centrifuge system will be installed. The grit removal system filters gravel, sand, and other inert material from raw wastewater before it enters the primary clarifiers, where organic material settles out of the wastewater. The organic material is then processed through the biosolids dewatering system, where the new centrifuges will separate solids, or sludge, from the water. The remaining water is then recycled through the treatment process.
The projects are part of a robust capital improvement plan that the City and BVU Authority maintain in order to complete improvements and upgrades to the plant. Within the past five years, nearly $4 million has been invested in capital improvements, including upgrades to the aeration system, replacement of final clarifier mechanical components, replacement of pumps, and other equipment replacement and upgrades. The $2.57 million aeration system improvement project completed in 2018 was partially funded with an earlier announced EDA grant.
The Bristol Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on Beaver Creek Road, currently provides sewer service to customers in Bristol, Bluff City, Blountville, Piney Flats, and some portions of Johnson City in Tennessee, plus the City of Bristol and portions of Washington County in Virginia. The City of Bristol Tennessee and BVU Authority maintain a joint fund for plant operations and ongoing capital improvements. A Sewer Oversight Committee comprised of officials from both Bristol, Tennessee and BVU Authority acts as an advisory board. The plant is operated by Inframark, a private contractor, and is permitted to treat nearly 5.5 billion gallons of wastewater annually.
Regional planning efforts led by the First Tennessee Development District were instrumental in acquiring the $1.5 million EDA grant, which will be matched with local funds. EDA grants are designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and to create durable regional economies throughout the nation. A recent $16 million investment by US Antibiotics to establish a research and manufacturing facility on Industrial Drive was cited as an example of Bristol’s ongoing economic growth.
For additional information, please contact Director of Utility Services Will Witcher at (423) 989-5566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.