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McAllen wastewater treatment plant to use less chemicals

McAllen Public Utility will update its south wastewater treatment plant in its biggest project to date. "About three years ago, we finished our north wastewater plant that was the biggest project we had ever done at that time and that was about $40 million. So this one is $56 million, and it will basically be a brand new 10 million gallons per day plant that treats wastewater," said McAllen Public Utility General Manager Marco Vega.

The wastewater treatment plant is located off Idela Avenue in McAllen. The Texas Water Development Board played a role in making the upgrade a possibility, said Vega. "We were able to secure a loan from them at a very low interest rate at 1.5 points below the market rate when we closed. That saves the residents paying utility bills millions of dollars throughout that loan," Vega said. That helps keep water and sewer rates low for McAllen residents. "We are the lowest in the Valley, if not the state of Texas. We believe we are the lowest in the state of Texas for the average residential household and so we're very proud of that," Vega said. Wastewater goes through several processes like biological and chemical filtration before reaching residents back at home. The City of McAllen uses chemicals such as chlorine to treat wastewater, but that will soon change. "Chlorine needs to be transported, and it TMs not the safest chemical to have around, but it TMs very effective. Now, there's ultraviolet and it TMs made leaps and bounds. It TMs made a lot of strides to the efficiency of that type of disinfection, which of course is chemical free, Vega said. The $56 million upgrade will not only include UV sterilization as part of the waste water filter process, but it will also replace older biological filter basins that are currently using surface aerators in favor of a newer submerged aeration system and added odor control. "So really, it TMs the things that you don TMt see that are the best attributes to this plant, but you'll see a lot of new construction. A lot of new basins and such that makes this process much more efficient. In the end, it TMs another component to quality of life here for the city of McAllen," Vega said. The construction is expected to be complete by mid 2018.

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