BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Beginning this week, Berkeley Heights will be the first town in New Jersey that has approval to use Peracetic Acid (PAA) as the sole source disinfectant in its wastewater treatment operations.

In 2015, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) introduced stringent regulations on chlorine-produced oxidants (CPO). The previously used treatment, involving sodium hypochlorite and sodium bisulfite, would not be able to meet these regulations. As a result, the sewer plant - formally known as the Waster Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) - looked for an alternative treatment.

Initially, the WWTP considered an ultraviolet disinfection system. However, this treatment would be expensive: $50,000 in annual maintenance costs and $1 million to install it. After some research, the WWTP discovered that PAA would be a lower-cost solution. Berkeley Heights was the first to test, and first to obtain NJDEP approval to use PAA as the sole disinfectant. Other states have only infrequently used PAA, and no NJ sewer plant has yet implemented PAA as the only disinfectant. 

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Under the approval of the NJDEP, the WWTP conducted an 11-week study on the PAA system in 2017. The results were great: a 12% decrease in annual operating costs, a decrease in toxicity levels, and a reduction in disinfection time. These results prompted the NJDEP to grant a permit to the sewer plant that no longer required CPOs in the disinfection system and permitted for the sole use of PAA instead. The WWTP would not have to install an ultraviolet disinfection system, saving $1 million for the Township.

While the current treatment required two chemicals and therefore two delivery systems, the sole use of PAA requires only one delivery system. The Berkeley Heights wastewater employees impressively built the system by themselves - for $45,000 - instead of hiring an outside contractor, further saving the Township money.

At the Township Council meeting on January 1, 2019, the Council approved a resolution to supply PAA to the WWTP. The first “mini-bulk” delivery of PAA will arrive this Tuesday, which will allow the WWTP to fully implement the new PAA disinfection system in Berkeley Heights. 

“A lot of teamwork went into the investigation, testing, approvals, and construction processes,” said Berkeley Heights Wastewater Treatment Director Tom McAndrew. “Our engineering consultant, sewer department crew, Township administration, and Mayor and Council - without support from all, none of it would be possible.  I personally am humbled and honored to be a part of it.”

“I’m so proud of the innovation of our staff,” said Mayor Angie Devanney. “With the pioneering leadership of our waste water director, Tom McAndrew, the out-of-the-box thinking of his department and the willingness and determination of our workers to make this project a success, Berkeley Heights is finding new ways to innovate our sewer operations that not only make our processes cleaner, but that save our Township money.”

Related articel: $20,000 Experiment Saves Berkeley Heights Township a Million Dollars