Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant – the largest single-site WWTP in the United States – is undergoing an ongoing improvement program designed to ensure long-term compliance with increasingly stringent regulatory standards. The extensive scheme of work currently being implemented by Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is the latest in a long history of upgrades to keep up with changing times and growing demands since the plant first entered service in February 1940. The program is intended to safeguard water quality, replace ageing infrastructure and increase efficiency by making use of recent advances in technology, as well as providing increased environmental protection and employee safety. The scheme of work underway is comprehensive and addresses elements of both primary and secondary treatment, solids handling and general plant operation. It includes the construction of new primary clarifiers, the provision of associated scum buildings and an additional pumping station, improvements to all of the existing final clarifiers, renovation of the oxygen plants and modification of the aeration deck. In addition, the storage tanks will also be rehabilitated.
Detroit’s sewer system began in 1836 with the “The Grand Sewer” – a stone and brick construction which enclosed Savoyard Creek – a portion of which remains in service to this day. Over the next hundred years, the thriving population and, in particular, the rapid development of Detroit’s east side resulting from the enormous growth of motor car manufacturing placed ever increasing demands on the existing infrastructure. To relieve the situation, a series of new sewers were constructed, along with Detroit’s WWTP, which was completed in 1939 at a cost of $10 million.
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