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The original item was published from 8/7/2020 5:14:00 PM to 8/7/2020 5:19:52 PM.

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Posted on: July 20, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Clarifier Rehabilitation Critical to City Infrastructure

Clarifier Rehabilitation Critical to City Infrastructure

By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels

Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin

After 37 years of diligently churning through what Las Cruces has to offer it, one of the two primary clarifiers at the Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility (JWWTF) is being rehabilitated. The facility processes 3.3 billion gallons of wastewater every per year and the clarifier is a critical piece of infrastructure that supports the city’s quality of life.

“Most of its moving parts are constantly underwater, and even with the best upkeep and maintenance, corrosion happens,” said John Mrozek, deputy director wastewater. “Plus, finding parts gets harder from year to year. It’s at the end of its useful life.”

The clarifier’s job: remove solid particles or suspended solids in wastewater. Sewage flows into the facility and is processed by the clarifiers’ rake arms. What falls to the bottom is sludge and the particles that float to the surface of the water is called scum. Scum includes grease, oils, leaves and plastics.

The East Primary clarifier, the one being rehabbed, is encased in a structurally-sound, round building. However, the huge 40-foot rake arms, attached to a center gear box, are missing bits of steel. This was discovered by recently draining the clarifier and doing a dry analysis inside the tank that hold 670,000 gallons.     

The $1.8 million proposed project has passed the first review and will be heading back to LCU engineers to integrate comments. It will then be presented to the LCU Board of Commissioners for approval.

“The clarifier is an integral part of how we clean and treat our water,” said Mrozek. “Even though we have two, it’s much better to upgrade when we have a secondary clarifier instead of fixing a broken system without a functioning backup.”

LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.


PHOTO 1: A rare look inside an empty and rusted clarifier: LCU Plant Manager Lorenzo Martinez, City Councilors Tessa Abeyta Stuve and Johana Bencomo, LCU Deputy Director Wastewater John Mrozek and LCU Commission Harry Hardee look in during a tour. It’s up for rehabilitation to make sure that the City of Las Cruces can properly process its wastewater.  The treated and disinfected wastewater is released as clean effluent back into the Rio Grande River or used as irrigation water for public spaces.

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