The staff at the Downriver Wastewater Treatment Facility has overcome many challenges. Their collective experience, perseverance, teamwork and loyalty have led to 100 percent permit compliance for seven straight years. Built in 1939, the plant has been upgraded numerous times, creating operations and training issues. Designed for 225 mgd (million gallons/day) maximum rated flow, the plant averages 50 mgd during dry weather. Annual average flow is 65 mgd, but the flow can rise as high as 260 mgd during heavy rain. The Downriver plant serves 284,000 residents in Allen Park, Riverview, Belleville, Romulus, Brownstown Township, Southgate and several other nearby towns. A joint management committee of the county and communities, facilitates input on operation and maintenance. The county invites a representative from each community to review and comment on engineering proposals and construction bids. Operators also manage multiple pump stations and retention basins that must be staffed during a storm event. Wet or very cold weather can affect landfill access, leading to high solids inventory at the plant. The facility team is considering emergency storage for dewatered biosolids as part of capital improvement planning.
The peak flow for the primary treatment system is 150 mgd, and 125 mgd for the secondary treatment. The system is designed so that any flow that might bypass primary treatment receives secondary treatment and vice versa. No wastewater can bypass both primary and secondary systems. The laboratory team handles sample analysis for the Downriver plant, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, two pump stations, storm water retention basins and the industrial pretreatment program. As part of a $10 million upgrade, the plant will renovate the laboratory this year in two separate phases to minimize disruption. Renovation of the solids-handling complex is to be completed before the end of the year.