Wastewater partnership to reduce pollution while saving Village of Malta and Kishwaukee College millions — On Friday, April 8, the Village of Malta and Kishwaukee College took steps to protect public health and the environment by pumping their wastewater to the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District’s treatment facility in DeKalb. Malta’s existing wastewater treatment plant is short on capacity, fifty years old, and in need of significant repair. A 2005 study recommended the Village a new facility with a full-time staff – an option that was tabled as it would have increased sewer rates fivefold. Kishwaukee College’s treatment facility is of similar age and condition. The Village and College found a more economical solution by partnering with the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District, which treats wastewater from the City of DeKalb, Northern Illinois University, and unincorporated areas in DeKalb County. “There are several small municipalities around the county with challenges like Malta,” said Mark Eddington, P.E., Executive Director of the District. “Wastewater treatment comes with very high capital and operational costs. Aging infrastructure and more stringent environmental standards pose unique economic burdens, especially on smaller communities.”
In 2017, the DeKalb Sanitary District reorganized into the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District in part to reflect its ability to serve communities throughout the Kishwaukee River Watershed. The name change also reflected the District’s commitment to reclaiming resources – like converting biogas produced by wastewater treatment into a renewable energy source. “The Kishwaukee WRD is one of the largest reclamation districts in the State of Illinois and can take advantage of economies of scale by offering our services to other communities in the Kishwaukee River Watershed,” District Board President Dennis Collins added “More customers provide the District with new revenue and additional renewable resources to create our own electrical power. Less-expensive treatment costs for new customers, cheaper rates for our existing customers, and an improved environment: it’s a win-win-win in my book.” On Friday, officials with Malta, Kishwaukee College, and the District held a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the project. Five miles of pipe and two pumping stations will connect Malta and Kishwaukee College to KWRD. The existing treatment facilities at Malta and the College will be demolished as part of the project. This solution will be half the cost of upgrading and operating Malta’s old facility.
Kishwaukee College is set to save $2 million in capital cost and reduce annual O&M by over 50 percent. Because the KWRD facility is more effective than Malta’s existing treatment plant, officials expect to reduce pollutants discharged to the Kishwaukee River by tens of thousands of pounds each year. “We consider ourselves environmental stewards,” said Mike Holland, P.E., Assistant Manager and District Engineer. “It’s our job to keep pollutants out of the environment, and this is another opportunity to do that.” Besides reducing pollution, the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District has several environmental stewardship initiatives and intends to be energy independent by 2025. It currently produces 100 percent of its electrical energy from byproducts of the wastewater treatment process. Other environmentally friendly initiatives include conversion of over 15 acres of turf grass to native prairies and free charging ports for electric vehicles.