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Helping Facilities Succeed

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides Enhanced Technical Assistance Evaluations (ETAE) with goals of reducing energy consumption and assisting operators and permittees in improving plant operations and reducing nutrients in their plant discharges while maintaining and/or surpassing the requirements of effluent limits established in NPDES permits.

Below are reports generated from ETAE. Descriptions include the facility treatment type and highlights from the ETAE.

  • 2023 NESJMA WWTF Organic Loading Study (PDF), Schuylkill County
    This 0.245 MGD conventional activated sludge wastewater treatment facility, serving sanitary sewer collection systems in three municipalities and two potentially significant sources of industrial and non-domestic wastewater, experienced operational difficulties due to existing organic overload conditions. An evaluation of influent organic loading recommended the review and revision of existing sewer use ordinance to develop and implement comprehensive controls over wastewater discharge sources in the sewer service area to reduce the adverse impacts of highly variable organic loading to the activated sludge treatment system.
  • 2023 Fleetwood Borough STP (PA0021636) (PDF), Berks County
    EPA and DEP staff deployed dissolved oxygen and oxidation/reduction probes to assist facility operators in evaluating their Orbal treatment unit for potential improvements, pending a facility upgrade, and recommended using probes to automate aeration capabilities.
  • 2023 Community Utilities of Pennsylvania, Penn Estates STP (PA0060283) (PDF), Monroe County
    This private community wastewater treatment system located in the Poconos near Stroudsburg achieved effective biological nitrogen reduction using timed aeration and anoxic mixing cycles in serial-flow aeration tanks to produce a higher quality effluent, leading to energy savings and reduction in chemical costs. DEP’s wastewater technical assistance program provided monitoring instrumentation and services to help operators optimize the process.
  • 2023 Pine Grove Joint Treatment Authority (PA0020915) (PDF), Schuylkill County
    This well-run major treatment facility located in Pine Grove Township and rated for up to 1.5 MGD, requested assistance from US EPA’s Region 3 Office of Water Programs to improve its biological nutrient reduction (BNR) above and beyond its effluent discharge requirements, in an effort to optimize its position as a nutrient credit producer for the Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Trading Program. DEP staff provided oxidation / reduction potential (ORP) instrumentation used to monitor water quality at the facility’s sequencing batch reactors (SBR). Using the ORP probes, operators were able to graphically visualize data related to nitrification and denitrification, finding their process control “sweet spot” for maximizing nitrogen removal. The report recommended that ORP probes be installed to supplement existing dissolved oxygen probes, with upgrades to the SCADA system that would allow the operators more rapid control of their treatment processes.
  • 2022 DCNR Ohiopyle State Park STPs (PA0032425 & PA0096521) (PDF), Fayette County
    The PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks, owns and operates three wastewater treatment plants associated with Ohiopyle State Park, a popular venue for white water rafting, angling, camping, and hiking, located in Fayette County. DEP technical assistance staff evaluated two of the package plants, at Kentuck Campground and at the Boaters’ Change House, proposing maintenance and improvements such as replacement of filter media at one and construction of an equalization tank at the other. In addition, due to the high concentrations of nitrate-nitrogen in the treated effluent, staff suggested the use of intermittent aeration in the presence of anoxic mixing to naturally remove dissolved nitrogen.
  • 2022 Rocky Ridge Estates STP (WQM4594405) (PDF), Monroe County
    The contract operator of a modified Purestream Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) requested technical assistance and cold-weather process optimization in this small treatment facility that serves a manufactured housing community in Middle Smithfield Township, near Stroudsburg. The study recommended better control of dissolved oxygen to attenuate high concentrations going into denitrification phase of treatment that requires anoxic (no free oxygen) conditions to convert dissolved nitrate to nitrogen gas. Effluent nitrate reduction is required because this facility discharges to groundwater sources where nitrate concentrations must be held at or below ten (10) milligrams per liter to meet quality standards for potable well water. A dedicated organic carbon source time-controlled to feed the SBR at the start of its denitrification phase was also recommended.
  • 2021 Dingman-Delaware Valley School District, Dingman Township Campus STP (WQM Permits No. 5292402, 5298404) (PDF), Pike County
    Interrupted by the Covid Pandemic, this WTE of a Pure Stream Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) with groundwater discharge recommended replacement of an antiquated preliminary treatment comminutor and automated dissolved oxygen control of the aeration blowers.
  • 2021 Waverly Twp STP Amphidrome (PA0061034) (PDF), Lackawanna County
    A wastewater treatment lagoon system in a suburb of Scranton, Pennsylvania, installed a nitrification filter in 2018 to enhance ammonia removal from its treated effluent. Facing stricter ammonia limits in its effluent during a periodic renewal of its effluent discharge permit, the facility owner and operators consented to an instrument-based review of the capabilities of this biological filter system to treat to a higher effluent standard. The subsequent study conducted by DEP’s wastewater treatment technical assistance staff evaluated filter performance during the mid-to-late winter of 2021 to confirm the filter’s treatment capability and suggested ways to improve filter performance during high-flow, low-temperature conditions, including process enhancements to manage alkalinity, reduction and attenuation of peak flows caused by inflow and infiltration in the collection system, and technology-based process monitoring improvements.
  • 2020 Parkland High School STP (PA0063631) (PDF), Lehigh County
    One of the earlier installations of Evoqua Jet Tech sequencing batch reactors, Parkland H.S. STP recently experienced operational difficulties due to adversely variable organic loading and filamentous organisms. EPA and DEP staff collaborated to evaluate this operation and recommend a combination of facility modernizations and process monitoring improvements.
  • 2019 Ligonier Twp Municipal Authority, Darlington STP (PA0254401) (PDF), Westmoreland County
    A small wastewater treatment facility in Westmoreland County was experiencing problems with chronic underloading frustrated the operator’s attempts to achieve biological nitrogen reduction through intermittent aeration techniques. DEP staff evaluated the facility and made suggestions to enhance its capabilities, including alkalinity control, dissolved oxygen control, sourcing additional organic carbon, and using subsurface anoxic mixers to promote denitrification in the bioreactor.
  • 2019 Ephrata Borough STP #1 (PA0027405) (PDF), Lancaster County
    This major treatment facility, with a varied customer base of residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial contributors, regularly experienced operational difficulties due to filamentous organisms that caused suspended solids losses into its chlorine disinfection system, resulting in deterioration of effluent quality. DEP staff provided use of continuous monitoring equipment while plant operators evaluated methods for overcoming seasonal Microthrix dominance, settling on an innovative technology solution that eliminated the problem.
  • 2018 PA DCNR Bald Eagle State Park (PA0032492) (PDF), Centre County
    This 0.423 MGD Modified Ludzack-Ettinger biological nutrient removal (BNR) plant, serving collection systems in two townships including a popular state park, experienced operational difficulties as a result of Inflow/Infiltration-based (I/I) hydraulic surges. An evaluation recommended collection system maintenance to reduce adverse impacts on effluent quality and suggested additional instrumentation to better-monitor BNR.
  • 2018 Schuylkill Haven Area Municipal Authority (PA0029017) (PDF), Schuylkill County
    This 2.8 MGD conventional activated sludge facility planning to upgrade its aeration system hosted a joint EPA/DEP instrument-based evaluation of denitrification that would reduce nitrate emissions in its effluent while conserving energy through modifications to its operational strategies.
  • 2018 Mapleton Area Joint Municipal Authority (PA0087513) (PDF), Huntingdon County
    This small-flow, extended aeration wastewater treatment facility proved to be an excellent candidate for biological nitrogen reduction, employing cycled aeration to achieve substantial reductions in total nitrogen while greatly reducing blower run times, leading to savings in energy consumption and chemical supplements without adding to personnel workload.
  • 2017 WWMA "Brush Creek" STP (PA0027570) (PDF), Westmoreland County
    Temporary conversion of this contact/stabilization process to complete mix explored process control improvements to improve effluent quality through nitrification of ammonia wastes and potential total nitrogen reduction.
  • 2017 Jenner Area Joint Sewer Authority STP (PA0042749) (PDF), Somerset County
    This contact/stabilization process was converted to conventional nitrification using simple plumbing changes, improving effluent quality while adding energy and chemical cost savings through process control improvements.
  • 2017 CCMA "Lehighton" STP (PA0063711) (PDF), Carbon County
    An evaluation of this Kruger Process phased isolation ditch process optimized nitrate and total nitrogen reduction by adding a missing cycle for anoxic mixing to its control automation.
  • 2017 Topton Borough STP (PA0020711) (PDF), Berks County
    An evaluation of clarifier ashing determined that step feed of raw wastewater to this two-stage process would mitigate autodigestion of its activated sludge, and low-cost conversions for nutrient reduction might improve process control while reducing energy costs.
  • 2017 Adamstown Borough STP (PA0021865) (PDF), Lancaster County
    Use of intermittent aeration at this dual oxidation ditch facility reduced effluent nitrate concentrations by 73%.
  • 2016 Mahanoy City STP (PA0070041) (PDF), Schuylkill County
    This Schreiber Process facility improved its performance with the addition of process control instrumentation, resolving ongoing effluent limit excursions through automation of nutrient control.
  • 2016 Lebanon Valley Mobile Home Community STP (PA0039551) (PDF), Lebanon County
    An evaluation of this small facility experiencing solids retention problems recommended use of chemical flocculants to assist with clarifier management, and it explored potential energy savings that might result from better process control.
  • 2016 Clarks Summit State Hospital STP Flow Study (PA0029432) (PDF), Lackawanna County
    A study of flow and loading to this trickling filter plant determined the need for new flow monitoring and sampling equipment to better characterize the facility's waste load, in advance of developing a nutrient reduction strategy.
  • 2016 Benezette Twp STP (PA0263711) (PDF), High Tourist Season Study, Elk County
    A study repeated during high tourist season in this small community determined that seasonal increases in waste strength lead to frequent plant upsets.
  • 2016 Benezette Twp STP (PA0263711) (PDF), Underloading Study, Elk County
    A BESST package plant in Elk County experienced operational problems due to chronic underloading during tourist off-season in this rural community.
  • 2015 Salisbury Twp STP (PA0081574) (PDF), Lancaster County
    A process control study determined a need for headworks improvements to remove "flushable" wipes, rags, and detritus from the waste stream.
  • 2015 Campelltown East STP (PA0087700) (PDF), Lebanon County
    The wastewater treatment process near Lebanon County Airport was evaluated to determine if energy cost savings though intermittent aeration would justify installation of new equipment for nutrient control.
  • 2015 Bryn Athyn Borough STP (PA0030023) (PDF), Montgomery County
    Facing new effluent nitrate limits, this facility installed baffle walls in its aeration tanks to convert from conventional process to modified Ludzack-Ettinger (MLE), achieving nitrate reductions and extending the life of this older facility at low cost.
  • 2013 SCI Laurel Highlands STP (PA0030406) (PDF), Somerset County
    This SBR plant attached to a correctional facility experienced effluent ammonia violations and nitrification problems due chiefly to high-strength leachate from a nearby landfill, and process changes including the addition of a BNR cycle were recommended.
  • 2013 Rayne Elementary School (PA0204498) (PDF), Indiana County
    A study of this very small treatment system with irregular loading suggested process control improvements and energy efficiency strategies to minimize operations costs while improving effluent quality.
  • 2013 Presque Isle STP, (PA0032549) (PDF), Erie County
    This small SBR facility with irregular loading experienced chronic effluent phosphorus and solids problems until a study identified maintenance, instrumentation, and process control opportunities that would improve performance.
  • 2013 Mapleton Depot STP (PA0087513) (PDF), Huntingdon County
    A review of process control at this facility determined the need for better solids management.
  • 2013 Jackson Center STP (PA0103331) (PDF), Mercer County
    A study of this pair of treatment processes, one domestic and the other industrial, identified many maintenance and process control problems that adversely affected effluent quality.
  • 2012 Terre Hill Borough STP (PA0020222) (PDF), Lancaster County
    A process optimization study at this facility suggested process control improvements to lengthen the useful service life of this facility which has since been converted to a pumping station for a regional treatment facility.
  • 2012 Portland Borough MBR (PA0064297) (PDF), Northampton County
    Pennsylvania's first membrane bio-reactor treatment facility experienced process control problems during start-up, requiring improved alkalinity management in order to achieve stringent effluent limits on nutrients.
  • 2012 Big Run STP (PA0223107) (PDF), Jefferson County
    This PureStream Biologically Engineered Single Sludge Treatment (BESST) facility experienced malodor problems due to retention of concentrated, anaerobic sludge. Process control modifications and new management improved operations and mitigated the malodors.
  • 2012 Berlin Borough STP (PA0021822) (PDF), Somerset County
    This project also included significant reductions in utility bills while reducing nutrients in the effluent. A successful cooperative effort between this municipal wastewater treatment facility and its most significant industrial customer led to process management improvements and better effluent quality.
  • 2011 Shenango Township Municipal Authority STP (PA01034710) (PDF), Mercer County
    This dual-oxidation ditch conventional sludge facility experienced nitrification and solids control problems due to malfunctioning integral clarifiers, and a study recommended several improvements that would benefit process operations.
  • 2011 Highland Twp (James City) STP (PA0221520) (PDF), Elk County
    A conventional package facility with malfunctioning sand filters and a new operator experienced process control problems that were resolved through maintenance and process control improvements.
  • 2011 Corsica Borough STP (PA0222283) (PDF), Jefferson County
    Ongoing maintenance and process control issues led to effluent quality problems at this facility that benefited from improved solids management and process monitoring. New management of the plant improved operations.
  • 2010 Masontown Municipal Authority's Bessemer STP (PA0023892) (PDF), Fayette County
    This conventional extended aeration process was evaluated to optimize a facility already holding a good compliance record. Minor process monitoring and control changes were recommended to improve effluent discharge quality.
  • 2010 Lower Salford Twp "Harleysville" STP (PA0024422) (PDF), Montgomery County
    This two-stage treatment process experienced operational challenges while attempting to meet stringent effluent limits for phosphorus. Process control improvements and process modifications were recommended.
  • 2010 Union Township (Lickdale) STP (PDF), Lebanon County
    An aging in-ground vault treatment system was evaluated to see if its service life could be extended. The facility was later upgraded to sequencing batch reactor (SBR) technology to meet regional growth demands and new effluent nutrient limits.
  • 2010 Frackville Borough STP (PDF), Schuylkill County
    An evaluation aimed at improving downstream drinking water quality suggested minor process monitoring improvements through instrumentation and increased surveillance for this well-operated system.
  • 2010 Elkland Borough STP (PA0113298) (PDF), Tioga County
    A study of this lagoon-based treatment system found that minor process monitoring and control improvements, including increased instrumentation, could further optimize an already adequate effluent quality.
  • 2010 Clymer Borough (PA0090140) (PDF), Indiana County
    This well-run conventional treatment system was found to benefit from improvements to solids management and instrument-based process monitoring.
  • 2009 Municipal Authority of Middleboro (PA0046418) (PDF), Erie County
    This conventional activated sludge, extended aeration treatment process facility appeared to have optimal plant operations, but high DO, sludge volume and sludge age, among other issues. It was evaluated to determine if process modifications might improve effluent quality and water quality downstream at a drinking water intake.
  • 2009 McConnellsburg Sewer Authority (PA0020508) (PDF), Fulton County
    This activated sludge – extended aeration facility had good overall operating efficiency, but was evaluated to determine if process modifications might help determine upgrades to meet new demands and regulatory changes.
  • 2009 Ephrata Borough Authority No. 2 (PA0087181) (PDF), Lancaster County
    This facility uses a Bio-Denitro mode phased isolation ditch (PID) process and was evaluated to determine if process modifications might improve effluent quality and water quality downstream at the Borough water works drinking water intake.
  • 2009 Atglen Borough (PA0024651) (PDF), Lancaster County
    This is a Contact-Stabilization type activated sludge treatment facility that was identified as having issues including hydraulic overload, inadequate removal of ammonia, and compromised disinfection facilities. Ultimately, it was replaced with a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) technology.