Kodiak City Manager Mike Tvenge met with Environmental Protection Agency officials and Sen. Dan Sullivan in Anchorage last week to discuss building an ultraviolet disinfection facility to treat Kodiak’s wastewater.
Under the revised Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, Kodiak is required to conduct additional disinfection of the city’s wastewater discharge, Tvenge said Tuesday.
The revised permit — required for facilities discharging pollutants into surface water, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation website — has decreased the limit for the amount of fecal matter allowed in wastewater discharge, which will include an extra disinfections step, said Severin Reed, treatment plant specialist at the Kodiak Wastewater Treatment plant.
The permit went into effect July 2018, and requires Kodiak to implement the new disinfection system by July 2023.
The current level of fecal matter in wastewater averages about 500,000 fecal colonies per 100 milliliters of water and the new permit will allow for only 800 fecal colonies per 100 milliliters of water, Reed said.
The city contracted Jacobs Engineering Group to figure out how to meet the new guidelines, and decided the ultraviolet disinfection facility would be the best course of action.
For the large amounts of water that flows through the city’s wastewater treatment plant, the ultraviolet disinfection system is the most cost-efficient of the possible methods, Reed said.
It will cost an estimated $5 million to begin the operation, Tvenge said.
“If 100% locally funded, this will result in a minimum rate increase of 12% to our residential ratepayers,” according to a Kodiak city funding request.
The city is looking at ways to minimize the costs to ratepayers, Tvenge said.
By July 2020 the city must secure project funding and submit its proposed construction schedule to ADEC, according to the funding request.
The city of Kodiak has secured a $600,000 loan from the Alaska Revolving Fund loan program, and Jacobs Engineering has been contracted to provide the design of the new facility and prepare bid documents, according to official documents of Resolution 2019-06.
Reed described the new disinfection system as a narrow alley with ultraviolet lights hanging over the water flowing through the unit.
“Depending on the flow and how dirty the water is, the intensity of the bulbs go up and down. It makes it so the microorganisms (in the water) cannot reproduce,” he said. “It doesn’t kill the organisms in the water, it just makes it so (the microorganisms) can’t reproduce.”
The new ultraviolet disinfection system will not be the first one on the island.
Kodiak already uses an ultraviolet disinfection system to treat the city’s drinking water, and the Coast Guard also uses uses a similar system for its wastewater treatment plant, Reed said.
The meeting with EPA officials included EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune and Deputy Commissioner Lynn Kent.
The meeting, organized by the Alaska Municipal League, also included representatives from other municipalities such as officials from Bristol Bay Borough, to discuss issues concerning the EPA important to their communities.
“Senator and administrators were very supportive of Kodiak’s concerns and the city will continue to work towards a solution with the state and federal regulators as we continue to protect the environment, while balancing the requirements in the permit,” Tvenge said at Thursday’s City Council meeting.