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History and Overview

From early recorded history, the first real movement towards a Marion water works system resulted from the city’s first fire fighters. In the early days of Marion, “bucket brigades” were established to stave off fires. All Marion residents were official members. Later developments in firefighting included the purchase of a Babcock fire extinguisher. This extinguisher was not always successful but was an improvement over the “bucket brigade.” In 1875, major fires continued to destroy portions of downtown Marion. After considerable discussion both pro and con, a petition was established to form a system of water works for both fire protection and domestic purposes.

After overcoming further objections “an ordinance providing for the construction, operation and maintenance of a water works system to supply the town of Marion, Indiana and the citizens thereof with water and providing for the issuing of bonds to the amount of $35,000 to run from five to twenty years” was passed by unanimous vote of the town board in August 1876.

J.D. Cook, civil engineer of Toledo, Ohio, was employed to prepare plans and specifications for the construction of the works. The contract for furnishing and installing the pipes, valves and hydrants was awarded to W. R. Coats of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The contract for the pumping machinery, boilers, buildings and well was awarded to Dean Brothers of Indianapolis, Indiana. White’s fourth addition land on 7th street was purchased upon which to locate the buildings and well. Construction was completed in 1878 at a final cost of $31,550.23.

Over the years, the Marion Water Works System grew to the point where the system had approximately 145 miles of distribution mains, 1,250 hydrants and two lime soda softening plants serving 11,500 customers. Major additions to the system took place in 1950 and 1970. The former included filters and softening units at the 7th Street plant and construction of the Butler and Meridian Street elevated tanks, all at a cost of $1,073,571. The latter addition included the 10MGD Bond Avenue plant, approximately 90,000 feet of mains and the 1.0MG elevated tank at 26th Street. Total project cost for the 1970 addition was $5,236,728.

The 1990 water works project was the result of inadequate water supply from the Northeast Well Field, poor physical condition of the 7th Street and Bond Avenue plants. Although the Northeast Well Field was a very important addition to the water supply system for the City of Marion back in 1970, the safe yield of the well was badly overestimated. In 1981 the Utility Board began searching for an additional water supply using the services of HNTB Consulting Engineers and Stremmel and Hill. After nearly five years and an expenditure of almost $250,000, the drilling and test pumping efforts located a suitable area for a new well field approximately five miles north of Marion. Of the six new wells proposed for the project, three were to be located in Grant County and the other three in Wabash County. Other 1990 additions included 55,000 feet of raw water mains, rehabilitation of existing Northeast and Downtown wells, expansion and upgrade of the Bond Avenue plant, rehabilitation of the 1.75MG reservoir and construction of a pumping station at the 7th Street plant, demolition of the remaining elements of the 7th Street plant, and installation of instrumentation and monitoring systems at the Bond Avenue plant.

In 2014, Marion Utilities completed a $2.7 million overhaul of the drinking water plant. The end result was a more efficient filtration system delivering tap water to Marion residents. Lime softening removes iron and lime which improves the quality and taste of drinking water and reduces staining that can occur in fixtures, faucets, and on clothing. Four new filters replaced the plant’s original filters from the 1960s. Benefits of this upgrade include operating cost reduction, durability of the system, and increased water quality.

Current water treatment capacity is 12 million gallons daily with and average daily production of 4.2 million gallons. The water distribution system includes 180 miles of underground pipe, 3 overhead storage tanks, 2 booster pump stations, 1,700 fire hydrants, and 2,000 control valves.

History and Overview

The Mississinewa River in the 1930s was a cesspool of filth from the City of Marion. There were 37 separate sewer outlets that discharged into the river. The Federal Works Agency offered to pay 45% of the cost for building a modern sewage treatment plant, and by 1940 a system of intercepting sewers and a wastewater treatment plant had been constructed. It cost the city $573,400 for land and construction. The plant had a capacity of 4 MGD (million gallons per day), garbage grinders, 3 primaries, 4 aeration tanks, 2 finals, 2 digesters, a grit removal system, and a vacuum filter.

By 1960 Marion had outgrown the capacity of the original wastewater treatment plant and a major expansion was necessary. The capacity was increased to 12 MGD and additional process tanks and a methane storage sphere were added at a cost of $1.7 million. Chlorination and neutralization facilities were added in 1967. Later, with the passing of the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, it was necessary to make further adjustments.
In 1983 the following items were added: garage and maintenance building, pre-aeration and grit chamber facility, gravity thickener, dissolved air floatation thickening units, standby generator unit, chemical feed facilities, gas mixing equipment for digesters, belt filter presses for sludge dewatering, lab and analysis equipment, plant computer, administration building, the north treatment plant. Capacity was increased to 21 MGD at peak flow and 17 MGD sustained. The cost was $19 million.
Today, there are a lot of changes taking place. Much of the equipment from the last expansion has reached the end of its life expectancy and has been or will soon be exchanged. Future upgrades include a new wet well, opening the new laboratory, and relocating the engineering facilities. The waste treatment process itself has seen drastic changes over the last year. Two new industries in the area have effectively tripled the BOD loading for the plant. To accommodate the increase, aeration has been increased from six to eight tanks. In addition, the WAS is being recycled to the primaries during cold weather months to allow for improved nitrogen removal. These changes were initially a challenge, but after several months of careful adjustments and research, effluent numbers look incredibly healthy. The chart below offers a brief explanation of the wastewater treatment process at Marion Utilities.
Wastewater Treatment Overview.jpg

Plant Description

The Raymond H. Strickland Wastewater Treatment Facility was constructed in 1939 as a 6 MGD conventional activated sludge facility. In 1960, the plant was expanded to 12 MGD with chlorination facilities being added in 1962. Construction in the 1980s added upgrades that included single stage nitrification, a gravity thickener, a dissolved air flotation tank and building, the sewer maintenance garage, an administration building, and the north plant: two primary tanks, eight aeration basins, two final clarifiers, and two process buildings. The facility is rated as a Class IV plant, treating and average flow of 4.5 MGD with a design capacity of 17 MGD and a peak flow of 21 MGD.

Preliminary Treatment consists of grit removal and screening. There are two aerated grit chambers which have a detention time of 5.2 minutes at 12 MGD. Two mechanical bar screens and two comminutors (back-up only) follow grit removal. A 36” mag meter controls a flow proportional sampler as water travels to the wet well. From the wet well, four raw sewage pumps lift the flow to the two separate plants. Individual plant flows are controlled by regulators and measured by mag meters after the split. Pre-aeration is accomplished just prior to primary treatment.

Primary Treatment involves five rectangular tanks in the south plant and two circular tanks in the north plant. They are all designed for a two hour detention time. Sludge and scum are pumped to a gravity thickener and then to the primary digester.

Aeration Tanks in the north plant are single pass. There are four actively used and four reserves. The four actively used south plant aeration tanks are double pass. At any given time, two of the six blowers supply air to the entire treatment facility: three Roots blowers, one Turbo blower, and two emergency blowers that are driven by V-8 gas engines. Alum is fed into the influent channels preceding the aeration tanks in both plants.

Final Clarifiers are rectangular in the south plant and circular in the north. There are four (three active) and two respectively. The return sludge rate is adjusted according to flow and sludge blanket levels. Waste sludge can be sent to the gravity thickener or back to the primary tanks.
Disinfection/Dechlorination is accomplished by a vacuum feed system and controlled by a flow proportional regulator. Chlorine gas is dispensed from one ton cylinders and mixed with effluent from the final clarifiers before entering a baffled chlorine contact tank. Sulfur dioxide is dispensed from five 150 pound cylinders and release at the end of the chlorine contact tank. A contact time of 3.5 minutes at design flow is assured. Chlorine and residual chlorine levels are manually measured every two hours during disinfection season.

Digestion takes place in four anaerobic digesters. Two primary digesters measure eighty feet in diameter, are heated, and are gas mixed. The two secondary digesters function similarly and have a diameter of sixty-five feet. Supernatant can be sent back to the wet well for reprocessing or stored in a reserve aeration tank in the north plant. Digested sludge is land applied.

Wet Weather Units are four-pass aeration tanks in the south plant. During wet weather events, a flow of 21 MGD can be received until these tanks are filled. After that the flow must be controlled at 17 MGD. When the flow decreases sufficiently the wet weather units are drained to the wet well for processing.

Non-process buildings at the facility include a Maintenance Garage, a Sewer Maintenance Garage, the Administration Building and the Laboratory. A Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) program assists operators in monitoring equipment, flow, chemical feed, alarms, etc. Regulatory reports are assembled on paper and electronically through systems maintained in house.

History and Overview

In 1995, our Stormwater service was formed with the intent of creating a source of revenue to start addressing the Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) in Marion as mandated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) through IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management). Until then, our Sewer Maintenance Department maintained only the sanitary and combined sewer system, with the City Street Department sustaining the storm systems and street inlets.

Additionally, creating the Stormwater service allowed for System Maintenance to maintain the Marion storm systems, as well as providing enough revenue to put approximately $1 million per year toward new construction to reduce the amount of CSOs per year, as mandated by the EPA.

History and Overview

In the fall of 2014, the City Council of Marion asked Marion Utilities to assume the responsibility of handling the contract of the Solid Waste Utility pickup services with Republic Services/Wabash Valley for the City of Marion.

In early 2015, the Utility Board began to research other options for the City of Marion’s solid waste pickup. After extensive study, including speaking with other solid waste facilities, the Board decided it was in the best interest of the Utility and City of Marion for Marion Utilities to bring the pickup operation in-house.

Shortly after, construction began on a Transfer Station at 1300 N. Washington St. The Utility purchased trucks, hired a solid waste team, and notified residents of the new process. By the end of December 2015, Marion Utilities’ Solid Waste Division was operational.

However, Solid Waste Utility services are not new to the Marion facility. The Marion sewage plant started taking garbage in 1941. With the idea of grinding green garbage to mix in with sludge in the digesters to help with methane production and run various equipment. The process continued until 1969 due to plastics causing issues with the process.The photo, above, is of the Marion Garbage Department in 1957 in front of Building E at the plant. The photo, below, is of the first garbage truck owned by the Utility.

First Utility Garbage Truck