Modeling to guide north-side wastewater system


JASPER — Bud Hauersperger believes that when a wastewater system works well, no one notices.

And thanks to newly-implemented electronic system modeling software, Jasper’s city utility arm now has a better understanding of how the infrastructure at its north-side Northwood Avenue lift station could be improved in both the short and long term.

Hauersperger, who is the general manager of Jasper utilities, said his goal for the program was for flow and pump data to be inputted in a usable manner to determine the area’s current weaknesses, as well as help easily project the impact that new developments could have on its existing system.

“With all the development going on out there, we wanted to make sure we are staying ahead of what we needed to do,” Hauersperger said in reference to the Northwood station during a Friday phone interview. “So, we thought a modeling program would help us so we could kind of model what our existing system does. And I think we’ve been able to do that.”

That modeling has already identified some places that could potentially become problems with increased loads, he said. Should a development come, those spots could be addressed by upgrading pipes or pumps.

“So we’re kind of prioritizing which one of those items we might want to pursue first,” he said. “And it might just [depend on] where the development is gonna come next, and kind of incorporate that into the plan in order to handle that new development.”

At last week’s Jasper Utility Service Board meeting, Derrick Wiggins, a representative with Midwestern Engineers — the company who input the data into the modeling system and compiled a report — told the board that some bottlenecks currently “show themselves during extreme wet weather.”

“Modeling is really just a tool to evaluate the system,” Wiggins told the board. “Both the existing system weaknesses, and forecast issues that may arise when you have future growth, and additions and improvements to the system.”

Short-term recommendations include controlling flow rates in five city lift stations, possibly upsizing the 12-inch sewer main north of the Northwood station, and adding flow metering at the Northwood station.

The quality of a wastewater system is tied to public health.

“If you don’t have a good system, you’re gonna get backups,” Hauersperger said. “It’s gonna leak. It won’t be contained in the pipe, and either the sewage, it won’t be able to get to the wastewater treatment plant, or because it’s backed up, it could back up into people’s houses. And nobody wants that.”

According to the city’s website, in addition to the treatment plant at 110 U.S. 231, the wastewater utility maintains approximately 135 miles of collection lines, as well as 25 major and 110 minor lift stations. The treatment plant is staffed 24/7, and an on-call maintenance personnel system provides rapid response to problems that arise outside of normal working hours.

Hauersperger said he would love to have all of the city utility’s systems electronically modeled. It’s a great tool, he said. A supervisory control and data acquisition system already “does that a little bit” on the electric side of things, he said.

“I’d love to have the whole city modeled,” Hauersperger said. “And that probably would be the goal to continue on. But I think we’ll just be doing that in phases, kind of as needed.”

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