Background & Challenges, Citronelle, Alabama Case Study


Courtesy of Nexom

The town of Citronelle, Alabama consists of approximately 5000 people located about an hour from the Gulf Coast within the boundaries of Mobile County. Geographically unique, Citronelle is built atop a giant salt-cored dome that is still rising steadily, within the eastern Interior Salt Basin in southwest Alabama.

With over 2400 kms (1500 miles) of inland waterways, Alabama has one of the highest percentages of water among all US states. With this knowledge in mind, it is in Alabama communities like Citronelle, who have the potential to experience both the far-reaching effects of phosphorus and where changes made to reduce discharged phosphorus could see the greatest long-term impact.

With phosphorus-fed algae blooms plaguing many North American bodies of water, and in response to environmental concerns, regulators are pressuring wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) to meet ever decreasing phosphorus limits. These limits vary, but are usually tied to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) established for bodies of water. In regions where permits have addressed phosphorus pollution, discharge limits traditionally range from 1 mg/L down to 0.1 mg/L total phosphorus (TP). However, as populations shift around waters with established TMDLs, targeted treatment levels for phosphorus are driven lower.

A 0.1 mg/L limit has historically been considered an ultra-low target. But in Citronelle, they faced an even steeper challenge from regulators with a new ultra-low phosphorus target of < 0.02 mg/L, which is among the lowest requirements in North America.

The Nexom Answer

The permit issued to Citronelle, Alabama is currently among the most stringent requirements being met by reactive filtration to date, at < 0.022 mg/L. There, the wastewater treatment plant discharges to Puppy Creek, contributing a very significant percentage of dry weather flow to the creek.

In collaboration with Speaks & Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc., Nexom created an upgraded system for Citronelle by adding Blue PRO® reactive filtration for enhanced treatment efficiency and cost minimization. The reactive filtration phosphorus compliance upgrade was sized for a peak daily flow of 0.76 MGD, and its implementation has allowed the WWTP to meet its discharge permit cost effectively.

The project was contracted in late 2014, equipment was delivered to the site during late summer of 2015, assembled in the fall, and construction was completed in December 2015. The system was commissioned, and all checkouts were completed before year-end in preparation for performance testing.

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