Blue Frog aeration devices given go ahead for phase two in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–In Jacksonville, aeration devices at the land treatment site are working better than expected.

The city installed the Blue Frog machines on June 9, 2016, as a new way to remove sludge from wastewater.

The devices work differently by turning the sludge into organic material so it can digest itself. This means less dredging, which saves money and improves the health of the wastewater.

There were an estimated 12 million gallons of sludge to get rid of. Previous aeration devices were 20 years old.

The new devices are saving taxpayer dollars and keeping rates low for the city’s nearly 18,000 account holders.

Tuesday, the city council heard an update about the previous year’s results and gave the go ahead for phase two.

Utilities Maintenance Superintendent Pete Deaver says he’s happy with the results he’s seen so far.

“The sludge, or your fats, greases, oils and non-dissolvables, settle out to the bottom and accumulate,” Deaver said. “Over every three to five years, we have to drain it and mechanically dredge that out.”

That process is expensive, costing about $500,000 each time. The Blue Frogs keep the lagoons from going offline and will push back the next needed dredging.

The devices are also improving water quality by controlling pH levels.

“Our forest is mostly pines and they like the pH around 7.2,” Deaver said. “We can get it to that point so it makes the trees healthier, which then means a better wastewater treatment process as it goes into the irrigation field.”

Phase two involves purchasing more Blue Frog units to install into two more lagoons. That will cost about $710,000.

The results from those devices will be analyzed for 12 months before the city decides to purchase more.

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