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The City of Woodruff received a Municipal Achievement Award for its collection system upgrades. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting on July 21. The city won in the public works category. Thirty cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
The City of Woodruff and the Upstate region are on the cusp of growth and city officials knew its wastewater treatment plant wouldn't be able to keep up with expanding residential, commercial and industrial demands. The facility was nearing the end of its lifespan, and the sewer collection system and pump stations were failing. In fact, the collection system had chronic problems, suffering constant sanitary sewer overflows due to holes in pipes.
One nearly-70-year-old pump station had repeated sanitary sewer overflows and spilled its contents directly into the path of school children walking to school. None of the pump stations had backup power, and the pumps, control panel, guide rails and valves were past their life expectancy and failed regularly.
It was time for a dramatic infrastructure expansion and modernization — upgrades that would halt the system failures, keep the public safe from spills and provide enough plant capacity for decades of growth.
Among the upgrades was technology to help clean the wastewater: New dual automatic bar screens help remove solids and trash; a moving bed bio reactor helps eliminate ammonia; and diffused air flotation technology, which removes fine solid particles, leaves the water crystal clear. To improve employee and public safety, the city transitioned to ultraviolent disinfection to replace its gas chlorination, which posed risks in the event of a spill. And for added reliability during a power failure, the upgrades included a paralleling generator system to provide redundancy if one generator fails.
City staff worked with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and consultants to secure funding and permits necessary to improve their infrastructure.
After the improvements were completed, word about the city's innovations spread among consultants and manufacturers, leading to officials in Alabama, Texas and Canada calling the City of Woodruff to learn more.
"Woodruff is now an example to the nation on upgrading and maintaining an innovative wastewater system," said Wayne George, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website www.masc.sc (keyword: Achievement Awards).
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.