By Kevin Bates
Before the Red Rocks Amphitheatre was ever famous with concert fans, visitors to the area called it the "Garden of the Titans." It was a nod to both its awe-inspiring, monolithic sandstone formations and a perfectly nestled location at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
The Amphitheatre itself is part of the much larger Red Rocks Park District, located 15 miles west of Denver, Colorado. The park is filled with winding trails, unique wildlife and breathtaking vistas.
Given stunning natural attractions and world-class musical acts, it’s no wonder thousands flock to visit Red Rocks each day. But starting in 2012, the volume of visitors began giving maintenance crews at the wastewater collection facility a compounding and costly headache.
As the number of visitors to the park started to grow year after year, the grinder drums couldn’t keep up with both the amount and type of debris. On top of that, the nature of sewage continues to evolve, especially where wipes are concerned. The material doesn’t naturally break down, and without a reliable way to shred the wipes, clogs and backups are almost inevitable.
Considerable yuck factor
Jeff Brewer is a facility maintenance technician at Red Rocks Park, responsible for ensuring that the drum grinders in the wastewater vaults properly shred the debris that gets into the sewer system.
"We were getting huge amounts of clothing, rocks, wipes and rags blocking up our drum grinders on a daily basis," Brewer says. Along with being labor intensive, the process is both miserable and unsafe. "The vaults are very compact and the odor is terrible," says Brewer. "I would have to unwrap the rags that got tangled up in the aerators and the impellers, and the cleaning process took about three hours from start to finish."
Brewer explains that along with the hassle and safety concerns that came with daily maintenance and labor, an even bigger issue was surfacing. "We were spending upwards of $5,000 a summer to replace the equipment within our water tanks that kept breaking down because of all this debris the grinders couldn’t shred thoroughly."
Brewer knew the situation couldn’t continue as it was, so he worked with Joe Davis, the facilities superintendent at Red Rocks, to find a better solution to deal with the huge amounts of debris getting caught in the tanks. "After Joe did a lot of initial product research, we contacted Scott Marshall, our rep at MISCOwater, to get his recommendations," says Brewer. "Without hesitation he told us to go with a Muffin Monster from JWC Environmental."
Action is taken
The Muffin Monster has a low-speed, high-torque design that keeps waste flowing freely and also eliminates the danger of clearing pumps by hand. Equipped with cutters and spacers constructed from heat-treated alloy steel, the dual-shafted grinders are capable of handling a wide array of solids without jamming. Another added benefit to the Red Rocks crew was ease of installation — the unit quickly adapts to existing pipeline or channel applications with little or no modification, and the compact design of the cutter and reducer allows for the use of small, energy efficient motors.
"We are very active out in the field, checking in with customers about how their process is working," says Marshall. "But in this case Red Rocks came to me and asked for my opinion about the struggles they were dealing with, and I told them the Muffin Monster was their best choice — hands down."
After talking with Marshall and doing their own product research, Brewer and Davis were both impressed with the ruggedness and durability of the Muffin Monster, as well as the strong reputation JWC Environmental has in the industry. The Monster line is particularly adept at dealing with wipes and other non-dispersibles, which was causing the bulk of the debris problems at Red Rocks.
The Muffin Monster was installed in the first wastewater vault at the facility, where the sewage runs from east to west, in order to capture and cut the debris before it got to the aerators. Since being installed in April 2014, Brewer hasn’t had any problems with waste clogs. "The unit has worked flawlessly." Brewer says. "It’s made my life much less stressful, and I haven’t had to go into the vault once."
As Red Rocks Park continues to draw more visitors year after year, Brewer acknowledges that upgrades and facilities improvements will be an ongoing process. "We now put on 120 shows a year, from April through September," says Brewer. "And each show can seat over 9,500 people, so volume is always going to be a concern for us."
Thanks to the Muffin Monster, Brewer and Davis can focus on future plans and improvements to the facilities at Red Rocks, instead of the daily waste issues they were facing before. "That grinder has been my best friend," says Brewer. "It takes care of everything."
Kevin Bates is the Global Marketing Director for JWC Environmental based in Costa Mesa, California.
JWC Environmental is a world leader in solids reduction and removal for the wastewater industry with its Muffin Monster grinders and Monster screening, compaction and washing systems. Bates has more than 20 year of experience working with global industrial leaders to solve challenging technical problems spanning a wide range of markets including wastewater, construction and mining.