Tourism leads to water and wastewater upgrades
A decade ago, Branson, Mo., was thrust into the limelight as a country music entertainment center. Suddenly, an average of 30,000 country music fans per day converged upon the city of 4,400 permanent residents, placing heavy demands on the water and wastewater infrastructure.
Branson answered the challenge by constructing a 5-mgd water treatment plant and 3.4-mgd wastewater treatment plant. Located across the street from each other, the newfacilities are designed to be expanded to 10 mgd if necessary.
Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm, designed the plants so that they would blend into the tourist city and not harm the Ozark Mountain environment. To ensure an adequate visual screening, both plants were constructed to minimize tree removal, according to Project Engineer Steve Yonker.
The $14.75 million water treatment plant was built to exceed all current water quality standards in anticipation of tighter standards in the future. It uses time-tested processes in conjunction with a modern computerized process control system.
An operations building houses a laboratory for routine daily water analysis and sample preparation as well as a control room with a computerized monitoring system that can be manually overridden in case of emergencies. It also houses filtration equipment, finished water pumps and plant maintenance facilities.
The wastewater treatment plant uses microorganisms to remove both organic pollutants and ammonia from the wastewater in an extended aeration activated sludge process. The biological treatment system significantly reduces phosphorous, which is a principal pollutant threatening Missouri’s lakes and rivers, and liquid alum is added to remove phosphorous that is not removed biologically.
Ultraviolet lamps disinfect wastewater effluent, eliminating the use of chlorine and minimizing the use of chemicals. Discharge water then can be drained into nearby Lake Taneycomo with negligible ecological impact, while the sludge is applied as fertilizer to farm fields.
Extensive use of covered basins contains odors and treats odorous air, according to Yonker. The treatment process generates about 25 percent less sludge than conventional chemical treatments, he adds.
The city sold bonds to pay for the plant; a tax on hotel, restaurant and entertainment tickets eventually will pay off the bonds. For the $14.9 million wastewater plant, the city borrowed money through an EPA low interest loan program.