Mystery dumping threatens Princeton wastewater treatment plant
Princeton city staff has become aware in the past several weeks that somebody, whether by sabotage or ignorance, is dumping something they should not into the city wastewater system – possibly down a drain or toilet.
City Administrator Mark Karnowski and Chris Klinghagen, wastewater plant operator, explained what’s been happening at the City Council’s May 25 meeting.
“We have to find out what it is and stop it,” Karnowksi said.
“It’s been going on since April 2, and it’s happened nine times since then,” Klinghagen said.
They explained that the wastewater treatment plant contains billions of bacteria that break down the solid materials. Whatever chemical someone is putting into the drain or toilet kills off the bacteria so that the levels become dangerously low and the wastewater treatment plant alarm sounds.
“The chemical that’s coming into the plant is reducing the dissolved oxygen that the bacteria need to survive,” Klinghagen explained.
Each time the alarm goes off, the crew must go to the plant and quickly dump in more bacteria before the mystery chemical wipes them all out and turn the aerator to 100 percent. Each time, the trips cost money in labor, electricity and excess chemicals. While the exact costs are unknown, the group acknowledged them as “significant.”