by Alan Swartz
The Village of Schaumburg has separate storm and sanitary sewer systems. The sanitary sewers are served by two wastewater treatment facilities, both of which are owned and operated by the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District of Greater Chicagoland (MWRDGC). These plants are the John Egan Wastewater plant at 550 S. Meacham Rd. in Schaumburg and the Hanover Park Wastewater plant at 1200 Sycamore Ave in Hanover Park.
Unlike MWRDGC facilities that discharge to the Chicago River, these plants do disinfect their effluent. The Egan plant has a capacity of 30 mgd, discharging into West Branch of Salt Creek; and Hanover Park has a capacity of 12 mgd, discharging into the West Branch of the Du Page River. Both of these treatment plants have exemplary records. Hanover Park WTP was the first in the country to employ tertiary water treatment, and in 2009, replaced chlorination with UV disinfection (Wang, 2009).
The Egan WTP treatment processes include screening, grit removal, primary settling, a single-stage nitrification activated sludge process, sand filtration for wastewater treatment, gravity belt thickening for waste-activated sludge thickening, anaerobic digestion, and post-digestion centrifugation for bio-solid processing (Zhang et al., 2006). In anticipation of future increased regulation, a full-scale nutrient removal study was conducted at the Egan plant, which developed a new method to remove phosphorous and nitrogen to less than 0.5 ppm, levels that far exceed current standards (Zhang et al., 2006).
The cost of this new method is estimated at $800,000-$1,000,000 for design and construction, $450,000 per year for the chemical (Ferric chloride), and $132,000 per year for the additional sludge disposal; however, no significant effects on algae levels suspended in Salt Creek were observed (Wasik, 2010). In contrast with issues with other facilities in the MWRDGC system, though, the wastewater plants serving Schaumburg have exemplary records and are pioneers in employing the newest technologies to provide water reclamation.
However, Schaumburg is served by the JAWA connection to Lake Michigan for drinking water. This would imply the groundwater supply is low. Yet, instead of reclaiming its wastewater for future use by allowing it to recharge groundwater supplies, Schaumburg’s current practice is to discharge it ultimately to the Des Plaines and then Mississippi rivers. Storm water is also discharged into Salt Creek. This presents potential flooding problems downstream.
Modern wastewater treatment is an effective tool to treat sewage; however, it has problems relating to cost and the relegation of its effluent to a natural flow regime. Busse Lake serves as a reservoir to attempt to provide consistent flow to Salt Creek. Obviously, water does not obey political boundaries, but Schaumburg can do more to try to reclaim its “waste” water.
Next page: Schaumburg’s Wastewater Costs