Matthew Wirtz, deputy director of City Utilities for engineering, said the plant currently uses the force of gravity to move treated wastewater downhill into the Maumee. High river levels can reduce that flow by 50 percent, he said.
“When the river gets high, the ability to flow by gravity slows down,” Wirtz said. “I think we've lost 50 percent of our capacity before.”
On a typical day, the plant moves about 40 million gallons of wastewater, but the ability to move more is important because it frees up space in the plant's three holding ponds during heavy rain, Wirtz said.
In all, the city is preparing to make more than $47 million in improvements at the plant, including a separate project to increase the plant's intake capacity. City Council approved that project Tuesday.
The new pump station will be located near the holding ponds, on the north side of the Maumee, while the separate $30 million project will be on the south side of the river.
The city is seeking bids for the pump station but will not likely award a contract until mid- to late-April, Wirtz said.