Processing Magazine

Equipment failure causes Indiana wastewater plant discharge

September 3, 2013

<photocredit>Timothy Beck/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

Officials at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management believe that a discharge of partially treated wastewater into Indian Creek was due to a equipment failure at Carriage Estates treatment plant in West Lafayette.

Investigation of the incident revealed that the discharge was caused by a malfunctioning oxygen blower and a faulty alarm system. The wastewater that escaped the treatment plant contained high levels of ammonia and low levels of dissolved oxygen. As a result of the discharge, fish along a Tippecanoe County stream was killed, the Lafayette Journal and Courier Online reported.

Earlier this week, the state's Department of Environmental Management warned residents to avoid getting in contact with water downstream of the wastewater treatment facility and to prevent pets from getting access to the water.

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The plant operator, American Suburban Utilities, announced that it was reviewing the situation that resulted in the spill. Scott Lods, owner of the company, explained that an oxygen blower had gone out on Sunday afternoon after the routine check done twice per day on Sundays. In addition, the alarm system failed and both failures in combination led to the discharge.

The blower was fixed immediately after the leak was discovered but it is still not clear why the alarm system failed, Lods added. The blower supplies oxygen to the microbes that digest sewage and if oxygen is not provided, microbes die and cannot treat the water, he explained.