Sunday, February 1, 2015

Waste Water Treatment Plant

I recently took a tour of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.  It was incredible.  It was the newest and cleanest looking building that I've seen at McMurdo.   Inside is warm and humid but it doesn't smell like anything bad; If anything it smells like dirt or grass.  This plant is currently processing waste water for about 900 people.  It's an open air system and uses no chemicals. 

These are the three "trains" filled with the water being processed.  It processes the waste from about 1500 people although our station will peak 
In the wintertime, they drain two of them and only 1 operates to process waste for the 130 people here for the winter. 

This is Zeno, our tour guide.  He works nights in the Waste Water Treatment Plant.  He is one of only two people that work that here.  They each work 12 hours a day. 

This is the macerator.  It's the first stop for the water on it's way into the plant.  It does exactly what the name suggests. 

After it's macerated it flows down and through these grates before it flows into the big tanks.  This is where Zeno and Yubecca have to fish out all the things that don't or can't get be macerated. Tampons, condoms, wads of paper towels.  Look closely, maybe you can find a recognizable object! 

You'll notice in this photo that the tank on the left has bubbles and the one on the right is more settled.   The settled portion is where they cultivate the bacteria that will then help to process all the waste. 

This is the full tank.  That settled portion is at one end and the middle is aerated with oxygen because the "bugs" love it and they are growing and reproducing here. When they are well fed, they reproduce up to 4 times in 20 seconds. 

This is the other end of the tank.  After the bugs have floated and feasted on the oxygen they flow into this tank.   Here they are starved or oyxgen and it forces them to eat one another-there by getting rid of the dangerous bacteria in the tank.  If they begin to starve, they drift to the bottom of this tank and are then recycled back to the first hold that I talked about where they are resuscitate and brought back to life. 

Next they are funneled into this sludge tank. 

When the sludge tanks fill up it's brought over into this room to be drained and processed. 

This is the side view of the machine.  The sludge gets flattened between they fabric and completely strained.  The water drips down the bottom and the dried sludge is pumped out the other end. 

Here we are looking at the sludge turned fertilizer that has been produced. 

There there's a tiny green thing growing in it! 

Here's Chelsea being so excited about the plant. 

The water that is drained off is then funneled over here and put under these UV lights before coming out the other end and being pumped out into the bay. 

And there it is!

Here's a animated version of the system. 

Here we are in the Lab were they test the water to see what's living in there. 

Here's some samples of water that we are going to look at. 

We pulled up the picture on the big screen.