Background

Our international food client wanted to maximize the production of canned vegetables at their Illinois plant during the short canning season. Their current wastewater treatment system allowed the facility to discharge treated effluent in two ways: either directly to a receiving stream or via the plant’s spray irrigation fields. But only under normal weather conditions. During heavy rainfall, production was hampered by inadequate runoff storage and the system’s inability to process enough effluent to stay within the discharge limits of the plant’s receiving stream.

Approach

Operational flexibility could be increased by either providing more storage or greater stream discharge through additional treatment capacity. The client rented portable treatment equipment as a temporary solution to maintain operations and meet production goals for the following year. Foth helped obtain a construction permit for this rental equipment from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), while suggesting less costly treatment alternatives for the future.

When the client decided to permanently increase the capacity of the wastewater treatment system, Foth was retained to perform an evaluation of feasible alternatives, recommend additional treatment facilities and provide preliminary design for the treatment upgrade. The plant’s wastewater treatment facility needed to provide adequate capacity for the uninterrupted processing of all the vegetables available for the short canning season. System improvements included the addition of Moving Bed Bio-Reactor (MBBR)/Integrated Fixed-Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) treatment units, aeration blowers, Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF), hydrotech disc filtering, as well as chemical feed systems and miscellaneous pumps.

Foth prepared a basis of design for these facilities, finalized the construction drawings and assisted the construction contractor as needed. We also prepared permit applications and presented evidence to the permitting authority confirming that the MBBR/IFAS treatment was adequate to achieve target discharge levels.

Results

Foth obtained the construction permit for the new treatment facilities, and construction began immediately. The new treatment facilities were activated two months later, in time for the start of the canning season. Installation of the new Moving Bed Bio-Reactor (MBBR)/Integrated Fixed-Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) treatment units alleviated a need for the temporary rental treatment used in the past packing seasons. According to plant operator, the sample testing results on the effluent from the new treatment facilities show 95% removal of BOD5, NH3-N, and TSS, to levels well below the permit limits. Our client can now choose whether to use their spray irrigation system or the new complete treatment and discharge facilities.