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Federal money allocated to improve water treatment plant



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Millions of dollars in federal stimulus money will flow into Utah for critical sewer projects across the state. These "green projects" aim to help the environment, improve public health and create jobs.

The Salt Lake City Waste Water Treatment Plant takes our solid waste to a final pellet-like biosolid in about a month. It's an energy-producing process that will become more efficient with a $6.9 million federal stimulus project.

"It really moves those objectives of the stimulus money forward, in terms of getting people out on the street working and moving smart growth and energy forward," said. Jeff Niermeyer, director of the Salt Lake City Public Utilities.

Federal money allocated to improve water treatment plant

The money will replace the lids on holding tanks, called digesters. Solid waste settles in the digesters, a controlled environment of bacteria, and the bacteria digest the solids. That produces methane gas, which is piped out.

New lids with tighter seals will make the system more efficient. "More importantly, they give us a bigger volume of gas that we can capture, because of the design of the lids. So, we can have more gas in storage, which makes running these cogen engines much more efficient," Niermeyer said.

The methane gas, powers cogeneration engines that supply about 60 percent of the power for the entire facility and generate useful heat.

"It's very energy-efficient. It's going to reduce the carbon footprint. A very needed project, and environmentally a very good project," said Walt Baker, director of the Utah Division of Water Quality.

The state Water Quality Board picked this project, along with five others statewide, for the allocation of $20 million. For Salt Lake, it's an investment in the green future of the plant that will create a couple hundred jobs through the entire work chain.

This fall, the city should be ready to get going on the project.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

Jed Boal

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