Alderman asks public works director about buying dog food

By Linda Trest, Staff Writer
Posted 5/20/20

The Gerald Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Monday, May 18, in order to pay bills which weren’t presented at a meeting held the previous Thursday, May 14.

As he perused the list of …

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Alderman asks public works director about buying dog food

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The Gerald Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Monday, May 18, in order to pay bills which weren’t presented at a meeting held the previous Thursday, May 14.

As he perused the list of bills, Ward 2 Alderman Ed Adams asked Public Works Director Nick Grube why he had purchased dog food.

It was a reasonable question, but these unreasonable times brought a surprising answer.

“For the treatment plant,” responded Grube.

The city’s wastewater treatment plant requires bacteria to break down solids. Currently, that is not happening quickly enough, according to Grube. He believes the increased use of bleach and other disinfectants being used to battle the coronavirus are ending up killing off the bacteria in the plant’s wastewater.

Dumping dog food into the water is an attempt to feed the bacteria and allow it to survive.

“You may see a lot of crazy purchases in the future,” Grube warned the board. He has replaced the dog food, which was getting expensive, with a cheaper alternative, 14 percent beef feed.

Grube says Mike Carey at the local MFA helped him research the best feed to use. Beef feed has more fat which helps feed the bacteria and enzymes more quickly. Plus, it is more economical.

After a couple of weeks of using the beef feed, Grube says the treatment plant is already getting healthier, although it is still a little off balance.

Gerald is not alone in this problem. Grube says his supplier for the enzymes he adds to the water, told him several other municipalities are facing the same situation.

While it may seem hard to believe that a little bleach from each household could create such a problem, Grube says those small amounts add up.

“Imagine if we just dumped 14 gallons of bleach into the water,” he suggests. That amount would kill the bacteria pretty quickly. So if each household in town added just one cup of bleach to the drain water, you can see how quickly it would compound.

“Perhaps alcohol or other disinfectants would evaporate more quickly and cause less damage to the plant,” Grube says.

The increased use of bleach and other disinfectants will not likely abate soon. Grube continues to look at options to keep the wastewater treatment plant running at optimal levels.

 

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