The City of Hutchinson Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) is located south of Highway 50 on south Halstead Street. It is a state of the art secondary treatment facility treating approximately 5 million gallons a day of domestic and industrial waste water to EPA and Kansas Department of Health and Environment specifications. The treatment allows the recycled waste water to be returned to the Arkansas River without harm to aquatic life or the environment.
Treatment is accomplished through a series of processes. These include physical processes in which debris, grit, and sand are removed from the waste water and organic solids are settled out of the raw waste water, and biological processes. The removed debris and grit is dewatered and disposed of at the Reno County Landfill with special permission from KDHE. The organic solids (biosolids) which settle out in the primary clarifiers are treated at 95 degrees Fahrenheit in anaerobic digesters and are then land applied for beneficial agricultural use. Biological processes are used to remove the remaining organic materials from the waste water.
The Hutchinson WWTF uses activated sludge, a process in which living organisms are supplied with oxygen and mixed with the waste water in large aeration tanks. The living organisms use the organic material in the waste water as a food source, thus removing it and purifying the waste water. Following the activated sludge process, the treated waste water (effluent) is exposed to ultraviolet light in order to disinfect it before it enters the river.
Originally built at the present site in 1959, the Hutchinson WWTF has undergone 2 major upgrades since that time. In 1984 the plant was upgraded to add the activated sludge process to the existing trickling filters. This was done in response to stricter state and federal requirements for the quality of the treated waste water. In 2004 a 2nd upgrade was completed in which 2 additional aeration tanks and an additional final clarifier were added, along with processes for removal of nitrates from the treated waste water. A design for a possible future phosphorus removal process was done at the same time, although it has not yet been built. The 2004 upgrade gives the WWTF the capacity to grow with our community in the future.
Industrial Pretreatment Program
In conjunction with the waste water Treatment Facility, the City of Hutchinson implements an EPA approved Industrial Pretreatment Program which was developed in 1984. Under this program, industries which have been determined to be Significant Industrial Users using EPA criteria must obtain Industrial waste water Discharge Permits from the City. The permits contain limits on the concentrations of certain pollutants that can be discharged to the WWTF by the industry. Limits can be locally developed or can be federal categorical limits (PDF) which have been promulgated by the EPA.
The permits also contain reporting and other requirements which must be complied with. Presently there are 9 permitted industries in the program. They include 3 metal finishing industries, a milk and dairy processing and packaging facility, a paperboard manufacturer, a hospital, 2 food processors and a real estate sign and decal manufacturer. Industries that have been in complete or substantial compliance with all permit requirements receive awards each year at the annual Kansas Water Environment Association conference.