Weather Updates

NSSD approves reduction in electrical costs

Updated: February 22, 2014 6:02AM

GURNEE — Electrical use to run the many pumping stations and aerate the treatment of sewage costs the North Shore Sanitary District nearly one-third the amount of its annual operations and maintenance budget, Assistant General Manager David Miller told NSSD’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at their monthly meeting.

And he said District staff thinks they might have a good plan for trimming some of those costs at its three sanitary treatment plants in Highland Park, Waukegan and Gurnee.

Engineer Michael Gerbitz, a vice president for Donohue & Associates, Sheboygan, Wis., explained to trustees that the key to reducing their whopping ComEd electrical bill is to make improvements in their aeration systems at all three treatment plants.

He suggests changing the blower systems in the three respective sanitary treatment plant large water pools, by adding new, but smaller, blowers or propellers that efficiently stir the huge pools to add essential oxygen and chemicals to purify the treatment process.

Gerbitz says the larger blower fans that are in the pools now would remain, but be used only occasionally in emergencies. He said the smaller blowers use only a small amount of energy to do their work, thus saving on the electric bill.

Gerbitz said numerous sewage treatment plants throughout the state are now downgrading from high-powered blower-mixers to the smaller ones because they do everything the big ones do but use significantly less electricity.

“The small ones also provide better efficiency. They are quiet, and don’t require much maintenance other than periodically changing their filters,” he said.

He said long-term costs for installing the new blowers at the three treatment plants would run close to $10 million. However, they should pay for themselves in about ten years.

Miller said the District is currently is locked into a ComEd electrical contract until early 2017. However, this would provide time for blower purchase and installations. The Board agreed and authorized the plan.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.