Wastewater treatment department strives for efficiency

Wastewater treatment department strives for efficiency

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Did you know that 7 million gallons of treated water go into the Portneuf River every day?

Multiple city departments are involved in keeping our water clean and our rivers safe. That includes the city water department, the department of environmental quality and water treatment facilities.

Elementary school students gathered at the Pocatello Water Department to learn about our water system on Tuesday.

“The primary objective of Water Week is that it’s an opportunity to invite the school district. We have third graders from the Pocatello school district come out and we give them a specific presentation catered towards them,” Levi Lusk, an educator and data technician for the Pocatello Water Department, said. “We have a representative from each of those departments from the city to talk about their individual department and how they serve the community.”

The Pocatello Water Pollution Control Plant is among the few departments that are seldom recognized.

“Anything that goes down the drains in the city of Pocatello or the city of Chubbuck is then conveyed out to the wastewater treatment plant,” Levi Adams, the superintendent for the Water Pollution Control Plant, said.

Millions of gallons of wastewater are filtered every day, and the process is not easy.

“It’s a multistep process," Adams said. "There’s screening at the beginning, there are some settling tanks and then it moves into what we call the secondary part of the plant.” 

Wastewater is filtered and is introduced to microorganisms that feed on bacteria in the water, a process that cleans the water naturally.

“We don’t use any chemicals. We don’t use any additives to clean the wastewater. It’s a biological process to clean that water,” Adams said.

Next, the water flows through several settling tanks before it makes its way to the ultraviolet disinfection tank. This process clears all of the pathogens out of the water before it flows into the Portneuf River.

The water is clear at this point, but “it does not meet drinking water standards,” Adams said. “But, that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely close.”

Adams said that, with a few more steps, it would be very easy to reuse water that is used for irrigation. Though it may be years down the road, the Wastewater Department strives for efficiency.

“Water is a valuable commodity in the state of Idaho,” Adams said. “Any chance we can use that water and be efficient as we can, that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

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