WOW! Talk about a fascinating afternoon. I just got back from a two hour tour of the Roseville Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant, located at 5051 Westpark Dr. in West Roseville. Ken Glotzbach, the wastewater utility manager,
escorted myself and several others, including RCONA friends – Sue Cook, Loren Cook, and Scott Alvord – through all the different areas that make up this huge plant.
And yes! It was, indeed, very interesting. I took notes on my phone that I’m going to share with you in this post, with the full and complete disclosure that I may easily have misunderstood items, mistyped them, or MOST LIKELY lately, good old SIRI changed what I wrote to “correct” it incorrectly and I didn’t catch it. Still and all, I think most of what I learned will come through. And yes, any corrections will be cheerfully checked into. 🙂
Roseville Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant Introduction
We started off in the main administrative offices of the plant where Ken explained some of the background and history of the Roseville Pleasant Grove wastewater treatment plant, showed us an overview of what the plant looks like from the sky
and patiently answered all of our questions. They even treated us to cookies and lovely iced drinks including my fave – WATER. Among other things, he shared that there are TWO wastewater plants. (I thought this was the only one). The other is the Dry Creek wastewater treatment plant, located at 1800 Booth Rd, Roseville, CA 95747 which is off Atkinson/PFE and close to the Roseville corp yard and the Fire Training Center, both of which are on Hilltop Circle off Atkinson/PFE.
80 people work in this Westpark area plant, including another gentleman I met, William Rogers, Shift Operator lll.
[Fun factoid – would you believe, I had just met a different young man earlier this week at Downtown Tuesday Nights (pictures still coming for that event 😉 ) who was ALSO named Will Rogers! Two people, same name, same city in one week! WOW! 🙂 And both, very nice!]
The goal of the wastewater plant’s operation is to get all the wastewater in Roseville (and a few other areas including Rocklin, Loomis, parts of Placer County and even a stretch of I80) to one of the two wastewater utility plants, get it treated, and then prove that it has been treated. All the water comes to them EXCEPT storm water. Most of the water is household waste water however they also get some drain water from businesses, restaurants, auto garages and industrial waste water.
They check with any new business to see if they might put something into the wastewater that would be incompatible. If so, they are required to pre-treat it. For example – (and this is not an actual happening at this time – just being hypothetical, as my fave law and order shows like to use) say a pharmaceutical company working on antibiotics moved into our area. Those antibiotics could eat the biologicals that the Roseville Pleasant Grove wastewater treatment plant uses to convert all the wastewater into useable recycled water. Thus that pharmaceutical company’s waste water would need to be pre-treated.
INTERESTING – As part of the conversation from that info, we also learned water that is TOO clean can actually be corrosive!
Mr.Glotzbach explained that all of our wastewater (and yes, wastewater includes the water from all our drains including kitchen AND bathroom) enters into an enormous collection system of pipes under our streets and delivers the water to one of our two Roseville plants – primarily using gravity. For the most part, both plants are located lower than the rest of Roseville. For the occasional area that is also low, that water is pumped UP to the main gravity system where it then heads back down to the plant using a system of pipes that start at only 6 inches and get bigger and bigger until the water reaches the 72 inch pipes. And hooray! Roseville’s gravity feed system is one reason our water rates are so low – some of the lowest in the area.
The pipes are made of clay and are expected to last 50 years but may well last up to 100 years. Clay lasts extremely well but contractors aren’t fond of using it for the homes they build, as it is much slower to build houses with.
Of the 80 people working at the Westpark location I toured, there is one crew of 28 whose full-time job is caring for those pipes. Some of the things they have to monitor include tree root issues, cracks in the pipes, and businesses in older buildings that have no grease traps and require a bi-monthly cleanout. And here’s an interesting tidbit about those tree roots. They were especially aggressive getting into the pipes over the last few years due to the drought!
The Roseville wastewater plants treat the water to kill pathogens. Then the water either gets recycled or goes back to the creek (as you might guess, the Dry Creek plant sends the water back to the Dry Creek and this Pleasant Grove plant sends the water to the Pleasant Grove Creek) where it gets even cleaner and once again safe to drink through the wonderful process God provides. I remember watching a fun description of it on Magic School Bus with my grandkids, and this public domain chart shows it off well.
At the Roseville Pleasant Grove Wastewater treatment plant there are also operators, mechanics, electronics technicians (there is a LOT of automation), and lab staff who collect and test samples. They do the day-to-day analysis at the plant while sending more expensive tests off-site.
They retail the recycled water to various companies – with the biggest customer being the City of Roseville for parks, golf courses, etc. If you’ve ever noticed the purple pipes and hydrants around in West Roseville, those are for recycled water. Because this is a newer technology, they are only able to provide the recycled water to about 1/3 of Roseville, all in West Roseville over to around Diamond Creek golf course. This is due to the cost involved to bury the pipes to carry it to the developed areas in Roseville.
I asked if they ever run out of recycled water and he said, “once in a while they’ve gotten close but never totally out so far.” Then I asked if they ever have too much and he said, “all the time.” But that’s OK as that is what is released back into the environment via the creeks, as explained above. The nearby Roseville Electric power plant also uses recycled water in their evaporative cooling system.
At the Pleasant Grove plant they treat approximately 7.5 million gallons a day in the summer and 9-10 gallons a day at Dry Creek, while in the winter, thanks to the rains, they did about 20 million gallons this past winter at Pleasant Grove and 30 million gallons at Dry Creek. That’s a LOT of wastewater!!!!!
Roseville Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour
I have to admit, at this point we were outside and it was very bright. But the lovely Delta Breezes were blowing, keeping the temperature in the delightfully comfortable range. That was especially nice as the tour covers about one mile of walking outside and in.
As Ken explained, there are three “steps” in the process of cleaning the water to the point where it is safe to use/release. Or as the Roseville City website used to put it, “Treatment at the Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant consists of screening, extended aeration, secondary clarification, filtering and disinfection.” We got to enjoy seeing parts of each of these.
Our first stop was to view bio filters used to clean the water. They keep a sand bed to filter the water. It’s natural and easy maintenance. We were intrigued by the fact that in order to weed this filter, they use snow shoes to walk across it.
They also have a huge clay-lined overflow area in case of an emergency. The water would get sent to that while they make the repairs. Then it goes back into where it came from (how’s that for getting very technical! 😉 )
One of the exciting things about this tour for me were all the cute critters that apparently love to hang around the plant. We spotted ducks, geese, smaller birds,
and even a good-sized hare or rabbit.
In a couple of spots, I even spotted eggs – by the size, we’re guessing geese? Too cool! 🙂
With all the building going on in our neck of the woods, we were happy to hear that they are planning ahead and that includes a digester that will collect methane and will mean even better and more efficient processing.
We moved to an area where brown water was rushing through. He explained the brown was NOT what we were all thinking it was. And the spots were hundreds of thousands of bacteria that clean the water.
The water goes in circles through three different “rings.”
- The first ring mixes it, keeps the good bacteria and removes the ammonia.
- The middle ring mixes and aerates the good bacteria, removes the carbon, and makes more solid bacteria.
- The outer ring is the final step in this section.
- It takes one drop of water about one day to process through all of this.
The rolling water provides aeration. During the summer it needs LOTS of aeration. On cooler days like today, it needs less. They do a lot of work in the summer to help ensure seamless running in the rainy seasons of winter.
Eventually they plan to add three more oxidation ditches.
Next we saw secondary clarifiers. These were especially interesting as Scott and Ken pointed out the tiny fruit labels – LOTS – that you find on fruit – apples, bananas, etc. (Handy hint – Those labels should be put in the trash NOT down the garbage disposal.)
He showed us some old “ditches” and discussed a bit of the history of tertiary filtration:
- 75 years ago – those are all that were used.
- In the 1970s, the clean water act became law and secondary treatment was added. That was better and saved both oxygen and fish. This was needed due to the population growth.
- It used to be that they used chlorine to clean the water. Now they use a better way – UV. The UV is 100 times stronger than the UV from the sun and could cause blindness so there were some intriguing warning signs – primarily geared for those working on repairs.
The biological process each Roseville Wastewater treatment plant uses grows more biologicals than needed so then they have to dispose of the excess liquidy solids. The building has a centrifuge separates it out and the solids left over are loaded into the 5 truck loads of waste daily that goes to our Western Placer Waste Management Authority Landfill on Athens in Roseville.
Roseville Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant Looking Forward
Ken Glotzbach explained that he carefully monitors the needs of our city and the ability of the wastewater plant to provide for those needs to ensure that we can continue well going forward for generations to come. They have already factored in all the new building planned in our area, including Placer County’s Placer Vineyards going in beginning at Fiddyment and Baseline in the unincorporated area of Placer County.
This was a very enjoyable and educational afternoon with good friends – old and new – and fascinating information. And I’m pleased to say that YES, they offer tours for schools and others. I understand the tours are usually run through the Roseville Utility Exploration Center. Very cool news, indeed.
P.S. Don’t forget to pop over to my Facebook page, RosevilleCaliforniaJoys, to see more of the photos in the photo album – Roseville Pleasant Grove Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour 2017. They’re not necessarily in order, but interesting nonetheless. 🙂