UPPER GWYNEDD TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Upper Gwynedd Township last week received a $2 million state grant as a result of some dirty work.

Since July 2013, anything that is flushed down the drain in North Wales Borough now heads for treatment to Upper Gwynedd’s wastewater plant off Township Line Road.

The North Wales wastewater treatment system at the end of Elm Street is no more; however, North Wales Borough continues to own and maintain the collection system.

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The H2O Pennsylvania Act grant was a reimbursement for necessary upgrades to the system in order to accept North Wales’ estimated 1,300 sanitary sewer customers on top of Upper Gwynedd’s 4,000 customers, according to Upper Gwynedd Township Manager Len Perrone.

Perrone said North Wales Water Authority approached Upper Gwynedd Township about taking over sanitary flow from the borough.

“(North Wales’ system) was old, rather antiquated,” Perrone said. “It would have been horrifically expensive with a relatively small number of customers to upgrade that plant in a cost-beneficial manner without affecting sewer rates to a very, very high degree.”

Perrone said the $2 million grant covered about a quarter-mile of new interconnected pipe from North Wales’ former plant to an existing Upper Gwynedd interceptor line. The merging of services also called for a new sewer metering pit, he said.

The new flow also called for upgrades to the Upper Gwynedd treatment plant, including adjustments in pumping capacity and implementing a trademarked state-of-the-art, cutting-edge sewage solids removal system called BioMag. Perrone said Upper Gwynedd is the only one to use such technology in the state, which appealed to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

BioMag, according to Siemens' website, uses "magnetite to ballast conventional biological floc" in the plant's bioreactor and it can increase capacity by as much as 300 percent. Magnetite is hydrophonic, inexpensive and reusable, per Siemens.

According to the site, "sludge moves from a clarifier via a waste activated sludge line to an inline high-speed sheer mill where magnetite is liberated from biological floc. The resulting two-part slurry is then passed under a recovery drum. Permanent and stationary magnets inside the drum help capture 95 percent of the magnetite, then release it back into the system. Sheered sludge, minus magnetite, then flows to a gravity thickener where it thickens to 3 percent to 6 percent solids."

“By going to new technology, we were able to speed up the process by which the solids settle and precipitate out. By speeding up settlement, we were able to increase the capacity of the plant,” Perrone said.

Perrone told Upper Gwynedd Township Commissioners Monday night that the recent merger would improve the quality of the Wissahickon Creek and does things “favorable to both North Wales Borough and the township.”

“Obviously, getting this grant saved North Wales a lot of money. It doesn’t come out of the ratepayer’s pocket,” he said.

Perrone thanked community strategic planning firm Triad Associates, of Glenside; municipal and industrial wastewater engineering firm Environmental Engineering and Management,, based in Kulpsville; and various contractors for their assistance and expertise in preparing the grant application.

“It was perfect,” he said.

Upper Gwynedd Commissioners Chairman Kenneth Kroberger also lauded State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and State Rep. Kate Harper for their support for the grant.

“The grant did a lot for the water authority that owned the North Wales plant at the time. It came about with no issues whatsoever,” he said. “A great job done by a lot of people.”