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Phase 3

While phase 1 may have represented the applicator’s biggest challenge,phase 3—refinishing the aeration tanks—was Steinbach’s. Phase 3 was completed in 2007.

“In phases 1 and 2, we could flip-flop equipment and take a clarifier or a grit tank out of service and not affect operations,” he says.“In phase 3,we didn’t have that luxury and could only be down to one aeration tank for a limited time.”

The challenge was compounded by the fact that an area food processing plant had a drum drying procedure scheduled during this period. And the procedure usually brought about a 20-percent increase in loading to the plant.

“We hoped to be down about a month and it took a little longer than that, but we managed the load and talked to the company about scheduling,” says Steinbach. “This phase impacted plant operations more than the other two.”

The Right Call

For Steinbach, the decision to be proactive in attacking hydrogen sulfide concerns and concrete degradation was never in doubt. After all, he lives in a nearby community where he once worked, and regularly sees the crumbling concrete that necessitated a major upgrade there. He’s determined that a similar expense won’t ever be borne by the taxpayers of Oconomowoc.

“I’ve seen some concrete just turned to mush by hydrogen sulfide,” he says. “There are some horrific degradation problems out there.”

As a result, proactive maintenance is the only responsible solution, according to Steinbach.

“I think some people view what we did as being very expensive, but if you look at the replacement costs, this is a drop in the bucket,” he says.“Clarifiers cost half a million dollars apiece. We just coated them for about $40,000 apiece and will get another 20 years out of them.”

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