Phosphorus a recurring problem in Mansfield wastewater

MANSFIELD – Too much phosphorus being discharged in treated wastewater into the Tioga River, especially during the summer months, still is a problem for borough public works officials here.

The recurring problem prompted borough council to approve treatment of the effluent with alum.

According to wastewater treatment plant chief operator Richard Correll, the plant had some higher spikes of phosphorus in May and June, after university students left for the summer.

“We get hit hard during the summer months. Because of the decrease in flows, there is a concentration of solids,” he said, but discussions with university officials did not reveal any possible cause.

Director of Codes and Public Works Shawn Forrest said “last year at almost the same time we were hit with both weekly and monthly increases,” but the actual cause remains unknown.

“We have not been able to pinpoint any inflow from any particular point, so we talked about the possibility of doing a chemical treatment (with alum) because we just can’t put a handle on where it is coming from.”

Engineer Jimmy Joe Carl, of Hunt Engineering, said last year the concentrations of phosphorus “doubled when school went out of session.”

According to Carl, the phosphorus coming into the system is biologic.

“The alum coagulates it so it can be strained out,” he said.

Carl suggested trying the alum first and then ferate chloride if that doesn’t work.

“Alum is used in water treatment plants and is more benign for operators to work with. The other is a fairly aggressive chemical,” he said.

Treatment will begin within the month.

In related business, council approved the sale of nutrient credits for nitrogen to Blossburg for $3.50 per credit.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has authorized the borough to sell about 7,000 pounds, which is about what Blossburg needs, Forrest said.

“Using the base figure it will generate around $25,400, which helps,” he said.

Council also:

Heard from Forrest that he hopes to advertise for bids for the YMCA parking lot resurfacing project soon and also start on sidewalk program. For the parking lot, Forrest said about $30,000 is available.

Heard from Director of Finance and Administration Lynette Hoyt that the borough received its 2013 allocation of Act 13 monies on Monday in the amount of about $157,000, compared to $172,000 last year,

Agreed to increase wastewater treatment plant operator Bob Putman’s wages to $27,000 annually. He has completed his six-month trial period. The increase will be effective Monday.

Approved the purchase of a 2012 dump truck from Sunbury Motors for a total of $89,000. Council had budgeted $80,000 for the purchase, with $50,000 coming from the general fund and the remainder split between the sewer fund and the municipal authority. The sale of two old dump truck chassis will decrease the overage to about $1,300, Forrest said.