EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — A multi-million dollar wastewater treatment facility on Evansville’s West Side has been in the works for the past two years.
Up to 45 million gallons of raw sewage flow through the tanks and basins at the treatment plant every day. Work began on the state-of-the-art facility in early 2019 for both the water and sewer utility’s west equalization basin and the overflow west capacity expansion.
Officials said this new facility offers cutting edge technology and provides safety measures to nearby residents.
“As challenging as it is to do this, it is the right thing to do,” explained Evansville Water & Sewer Utility Executive Director Lane Young. “What we can do is we can come in and we can fill 6 millon gallons of flow coming here to the plant and hold it right here, rather than having it backed out in the system and creating more overflow.”
The project cost an estimated $66 million, paid entirely by sewer rate increases. The plant handles the entire West Side of Evansville and most of northern Vanderburgh County.
The notable new Sunrise Pump Station near downtown will handle a majority of East Evansville.
“We’re at the very beginning of this process, these two plant projects were really some of the first ones that we needed to do,” said Young. “Ultimately going from 2 billion gallons a year, 2 billion with a B, is what overflows based on rain events and so we have been tasked with capturing that and not putting that combined waste in the rivers and creeks.”
Although the plant is 100 percent operational, a maintenance building still needs to be constructed and is expected to be finished by the end of the year. Officials said they tried to make the project as eco-friendly as possible.
“Most people would be surprised that virtually none of this process is chemically driven,” Young said. “It’s all naturally biologically driven, there are a few little parts where we might have a little bit of chlorine, but the vast majority and the way we treat this waste is through biology.”
The facility is bound by the Howell Wetlands, a 35-acre marshland and one of only five urban wetland parks in Indiana.
During the treatment process, methane is a byproduct and is currently burned off with a flare. The EWSU said it took the environment into account when building the new plant, something officials say will likely last decades.
“We looked at our system and how we can be good stewards of the environment and this is all part of the process,” said Young.