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A wastewater plant primer
The sequence batch reactors (SBRs) do the lion's share of the wastewater treatment at the Oak Bluffs wastewater plant. Photos by Ezra Blair
Wastewater treatment plants, like the Oak Bluffs plant are high-tech and complicated. They are science laboratories but on a massive scale, and each one is a little bit different.
Wastewater from homes and businesses tied into the system flows to a pump station at the foot of School Street.
The effluent passes through this ultraviolet light filter before finally leaving the wastewater plant.
The wastewater is then pumped into a series of sequence batch reactors (SBRs), high-tech, aerated tubs where microorganisms consume the organic material floating in the water. After a set amount of time, the oxygen that is fed into the tank is turned off. This allows the microorganism, and any solid matter to settle to the bottom of the tank where it can be removed and dewatered.
The purified water is then gravity fed out of the wastewater plant to Veira Park, where a pump station pumps the water to Ocean Park where it goes into a leaching field to reenter the groundwater.
The two large sand filters strain out any particulate in the wastewater.
If Oak Bluffs voters approve the $1 million for a primary clarifying unit, the new equipment would be installed before the SBR units. The primary clarifier would remove oils, fats, and grease, which have caused problems in the other parts of the system.