San Auth reed beds

Here is the initial sludge flow into the new reed bed facilities at the Bradford Sanitary Authority wastewater treatment plant. The beds replaced the former sand beds as a greener sludge dewatering system.

Topics discussed at Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the Bradford Sanitary Authority included the authority’s development of a GIS program, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Board members watched a presentation on the status of the authority’s ongoing GIS program development, which included digital maps of the entire sanitary and stormwater systems.

“From mobile devices, BSA staff can now retrieve a great deal of information about any feature of the collection systems, such as location, materials of construction, depth, size, flow direction, service dates, and view photos and videos of these system features,” Executive Director Rick Brocius told The Era after the meeting. “This remote access via an iPad, smartphone, or laptop, has greatly increased the accuracy of information when marking underground infrastructure in response to PA One-Calls.”

Since 2019, authority staff have used the Workforce module of the GIS program to assign, schedule and record all sanitary and stormwater work.

“The Workforce module is also linked directly to the digital GIS maps such that all work locations are populated to the digital maps of the sanitary and storm systems throughout the city,” Brocius said.

Once staff finishes assessing the condition of the systems, they can use the GIS program to plan long-range repairs and rehabilitation.

“National statistics support that planned infrastructure rehabilitation is five times less expensive than reacting to emergency repairs,” Brocius noted. “The GIS program is key to identifying where repair dollars are best utilized and will improve the long-range capital budget planning process.”

Authority members also discussed the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

They are monitoring guidance from organizations such as the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association, the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on any potential coronavirus exposure to wastewater workers. All training and conferences authority staff had planned to attend have been canceled or postponed.

Brocius announced a milestone achieved by authority staff: On March 10, they delivered the first flows of digested wastewater sludge to the new reed bed facilities.

The reed beds were grown in 2019 to replace sand beds previously used for dewatering the sludge.

“The reed bed operation is a green alternative to sludge disposal made possible through the phase 3 wastewater treatment plant upgrades,” Brocius explained.

He noted that it’s likely they will be able to discontinue the practice of hauling sludge to the landfill in the coming months with the new treatment.

Brocius reported on the upcoming construction season, too.

The authority is in the planning stages for projects in the sanitary and stormwater systems, and they are hopeful they authority will be awarded a $382,000 grant for sanitary system repairs.

“In addition to our own list of projects, BSA staff are also coordinating work with city streetscape projects, the Elm Street bridge replacement project, and the water authority main water line project where sanitary or storm lines may be impacted,” Brocius said.

The authority received its new Bobcat track-loader, which Brocius said “will be a great asset to the treatment plant for support of the reed bed operations and building and grounds work.”

The field crew will be able to use the loader on sanitary and storm system projects. With a street sweeper attachment, it can help with post-storm cleanup, too.