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Treated ‘gray water’ could be used for irrigation

by Tom Chillemi

Regulations for discharging treated wastewater into bodies of water will be so strict by the year 2011 that it may be easier, and cheaper, to re-use the treated water for irrigation. That idea was among those discussed by Middlesex County wastewater consultant Roger Hart at the July 10 Middlesex Planning Commission.

State DEQ discharge limits for phosphorus and nitrogen are being lowered and within three years those nutrients will need to be nearly eliminated from treatment plant discharges. “It’s going to get even tougher in the future to put in central wastewater systems,” Hart said.

“Alternative” ways of reusing effluent for irrigation will have to be considered, he said. “We’re looking at the possible reuse of (treated) water here in Saluda, trying to re-use the gray water from the treatment plant for irrigation in the area of Saluda, so you would not have a discharge.”

Gray water is water that has not been flushed down a toilet, such as laundry or sink water.

Treatment plants that cannot meet the new regulations can buy “credits,” noted county supervisor Jack Miller, and a credit is nothing more than the ability “to pay to pollute.”

Miller asked Hart how good the treated wastewater will be.

Hart responded, “The water we are going to be putting out will be very good wastewater.

“We got very lucky here,” continued Hart. “The (Middlesex) board of supervisors got a plant permitted right over here (next to the sheriff’s office) a couple years ago with a certificate to construct, which gave us a flow with so many pounds of nutrients. That is what we are going to utilize at our treatment plant.”

The DEQ has said Middlesex must re-apply for a new permit and cannot transfer the old permit.

Hart said at one of the plants his firm designed, the water outflow is clear and is high in dissolved oxygen.

The proposed Saluda plant will be expandable, said Hart. “You will be able to sustain and direct growth in that area,” he told the planners.

The county should be prepared when the sewage treatment system is built because there is a lot of property that can be developed in the area around Saluda and Cooks Corner, Hart told the commission and the audience.

The audience was larger than usual and included Middlesex supervisors Kenneth Williams, Fred Crittenden and Bob Crump in addition to Miller, who is on the planning commission as the board’s liaison.

posted 07.18.2008

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