City spending $750K on lagoon upgrades

City spending $750K on lagoon upgrades


About $750,000 from American Rescue Plan Act monies will be used to help Philadelphia Utilities (PU) with much needed repairs to its waste water treatment lagoon.

PU representatives approached the city board at its meeting last Tuesday. They reported the levies on all three cells at the lagoon are washing out due to years of erosion, wind and water. 

The levies need to be rebuilt, they said, and should one wash out, PU could face fines from the state Department of Environmental Quality  along with the expense of cleanup and possible loss of service.

“This is a big deal,” said PU General Manager Kirk Morgan. “Over time, the levies will erode. This is such an important part of our city’s infrastructure. It is a great opportunity to take care of the problem with funds that are now available.”

PU has already received $1 million from the state Legislature through the work of Rep. Scott Bounds and Sen. Jenifer Branning, officials said.

The monies the city has allocated will be used as a one-to-one matching money for a grant PU is seeking from DEQ. If this comes together, it will give PU $2.5 million for the repairs.

The motion to allocate the monies was made by Ward 2 Alderman Jim Fulton and seconded by Ward 1 Alderman Justin Clearman. It was unanimously approved.

“This is something we need to take care of now,” Fulton said.

Engineer Ed Dedeaux of Allen Engineering said PU has the $1 million from the state in hand, and will be opening bids next week to begin the work.

“They are going to work on the central road through the middle,” Dedeaux said. “Right now, you can’t drive over the levies. We are going to get the worst of a couple of the cells, initially.”

PU operates a class two, 2.10 million gallons per day wastewater treatment lagoon. It is located south of Lakeside Drive and between South Lewis Avenue and Road 375 inside the city. The sole entrance into the lagoon is off the dead end of south Lewis Avenue.

The lagoon consists of one 15 acre aerated cell, constructed in 2008; one 50 acre retention cell, constructed in 1983; and, one 33 acre finishing cell, constructed in 1968.

During the process of treatment, the top of the water level can fluctuate between five and six feet in elevation.

PU Water and Wastewater Superintendent Chris Higginbotham said four men work in the area regularly, cutting grass and keeping limbs and trash out of the water. He added that the levies has worn down overtime, losing five to six feet,

Dedeaux compared the problem to someone having a pond on their property.

“It is something you have to take care of every 40 or 50 years,” Dedeaux said. 

“It will be improvement for Philadelphia. It keeps the wastewater system going and the city will have capacity for growth.”

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