Water Resource Recovery Facility

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Plant Description

The Montpelier Water Resource Recovery Facility (MWRRF) is a conventional activated sludge facility. The MWRRF is proud to be a truly regional facility that manages municipal sludge from not only Montpelier and Berlin, but 10 other rural Vermont communities, septage from roughly 30% of Vermont’s residential septic systems, and landfill leachate from the only active landfill in Vermont.

Pete the Plumber's Thoughts on Wipes

Ever wonder what happens to those "flushable" wipes? Watch this 47-second video on why flushable wipes are bad for Montpelier's water system. 

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Fast & Flow

The facility is permitted for an annual average flow of 3.97 million gallons per day (mgd). That’s more than 8 Olympic-sized swimming pools! Final disinfected effluent (the cleaned & treated water) is discharged into the Winooski River. The City has a combined sewer system with 6 combined sewer overflow structures connected to our system. 

The flow of liquid through the facility can vary greatly from high-intensity rainfall events. Peak capacity is a flow of 10 mgd. This facility also receives sewage from the Town of Berlin, approximately 0.2 mgd. 

The facility consists of influent screening, an aerated grit chamber, two primary clarifiers, four aeration tanks, two secondary clarifiers, and four ultraviolet units in two parallel channels for disinfection. Solids handling consists of sludge thickening (rotary drum thickeners), two anaerobic digesters, one digested sludge storage tank, and two screw presses for dewatering.  

The plant works in conjunction with the local Waste Management Company and the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD) for sludge disposal. Dewatered sludge is brought to the landfill.

Energy Production

Methane produced in the two anaerobic digesters is captured and utilized to offset fuel oil consumption for year-round heating demands. The facility also receives waste from septic systems (septage), landfills (leachate), other municipalities (municipal sludge), breweries, dairies, and other high-strength organic waste. 

Haulers can unload waste at the MWRRF 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The facility is equipped with a control panel for monitoring deliveries, one screening unit, and septage and leachate storage tanks. 

The main goal of operations is to protect the Winooski River, which flows into Lake Champlain, by ensuring the highest quality effluent is produced each day. Daily operations are accomplished by four licensed wastewater Operators. One Operator is always on standby in case of an emergency at the facility. Final effluent samples are collected and analyzed every day to confirm compliance with the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharge permit (VT0100196). Wastewater is treated continuously and is monitored remotely when Operators are not on site.

City Residents with Septic Tanks

If you are a City resident on a septic system, please call (802)223-9511 to find out the last time your septic system has been pumped. The City allows residents on septic systems to have their septic tanks pumped every three years for no upfront cost (cost covered by residents quarterly sewer bill). It is the resident’s responsibility to call the MWRRF facility and schedule a septic tank pumping. The City has an agreement with a local septic hauler to complete septic tank pumping. Residents' septage is trucked to the MWRRF for treatment and disposal. 

Don't Slow the Flow!

All across the U.S. the build-up of fats, oils and grease (FOG) in sewer lines is one of the leading causes of sewer blockages. FOG is a by-product of cooking that can be found in: food scraps, meat fats, lard, cooking oil, bakes goods, sauces, dairy products, butter or margarine.  Sewer blockages can cause harm to your home, business, our City's infrastructure and the environment. To learn about how to prevent sewer blockages, click here!

Virus Sampling Study

The Montpelier Water Resource Recovery Facility is now participating in a nationwide wastewater sampling program through Verily (life science branch of Alphabet, Inc.). As of now, 183 wastewater facilities are participating, 37 states are represented, and 42,726,910 people are covered through the sampling efforts.  Starting March 6th, 2023 wastewater samples from the WRRF have been sent out 3 times a week to San Francisco, CA to be tested for Sars-CoV-2, Influenza, RSV, Human Metapneumovirus, Mpox, and Norovirus. “The goal is to monitor diseases through municipal wastewater sampling and establish a framework for early warning platforms (Verily – 2023).” Updated results can be found here:  https://data.wastewaterscan.org/?plantId=98a28d70-f8f5-414f-bd0b-874772fb498c. 

This sampling regime will continue for the next 1-3 years. One additional benefit of this program is the City of Montpelier is being paid for the samples we collect ($175/sample - $27,300/year). Town of Berlin officials have been notified of this sampling program because their wastewater is treated at the City’s WRRF.

Awards Received

  • 2021 Public Works Project of the Year Small Cities / Rural Communities: American Public Works Association
  • 2017 Wastewater Facility Excellence Award: Green Mountain Water Environment Association
  • 2015 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence: State of Vermont 
  • 2014 Utility Management Achievement Award: New England Water Environment Association
  • 2014 Energy Management Award: Efficiency Vermont
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