For the next year, city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) will be getting $150 per sample of wastewater that it sends to Verily Life Science for COVID-19 testing.
Bloomington’s utilities service board (USB) approved the arrangement at its regular meeting on Monday.
Under the agreement, CBU will be sending three samples a week to the California-based company through Aug. 1, 2023, with the possibility of a one-year extension.
Responding to board questions, CBU’s James Hall, who is assistant director of environmental programs, said that CBU would have access to all of the data collected, but would not have control over its publication by Verily.
Verily is a company held by Alphabet, which is the company under which Google was reorganized in 2015. Verily describes itself as a “company bringing the promise of precision health to everyone, every day.” Continue reading “Wastewater COVID-19 testing: Google affiliate to pay Bloomington utilities for samples”
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council approved $32 million in sewage works revenue bonds, to help pay for two major projects.
One is a $23-million expansion and modernization project for the city’s Dillman Road wastewater treatment plant. The capacity of the plant will be increased by
25 percent , from 15 million gallons a day to 20 million gallons a day.
The expansion is needed because the plant has, on an annual basis, consistently exceeded 90-percent of its designed flow rate of 15 million gallons. The exceedances were noted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in 2016.
According to the city’s director of utilities Vic Kelson, the expansion should give the plant enough capacity to handle increases in population projected through about 2035.
The other project to be financed by the sewage revenue bonds is an $11-million renovation of the stormwater culvert that runs under downtown Bloomington, from the western edge of the Indiana University between Kirkwood Avenue and 6th Street. The open stream that flows across the campus is known as the “Jordan River.” Continue reading “$32M in sewage works bonds OK’d for two projects: Culvert under downtown Bloomington, wastewater treatment plant capacity expansion”
How much sewage do Bloomington utilities customers generate every year? About 2.57 billion gallons. Lake Monroe’s capacity of about 77.14 billion gallons could hold roughly 30 years worth of Bloomington’s sewage.
Bloomington’s sewage is not piped into Lake Monroe, of course. It goes to one of two wastewater treatment plants—Blucher Poole or Dillman Road. These days the Dillman Road facility often operates near or even over its rated capacity of 15 million gallons a day.
It’s a situation that caught the attention of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) recently, in 2016, and two decades ago, in 1999. IDEM sent “early warning” letters to Bloomington noting that the average daily flow through the plant, measured over the course of a year or more, was approaching or over 90 percent of the rated capacity of the facility.
So Bloomington’s utilities director, Vic Kelson, will be appearing in front of the city council on Wednesday (Sept. 11), to lay out the case for a sewer rate increase, to help pay for needed improvements to the city’s two wastewater treatment facilities.
The department’s capital improvement plan over the next seven years calls for about $35 million worth of improvements to Dillman Road and $17 million for the Blucher Poole facility. Continue reading “Higher rates for Bloomington sewer customers: An inside-and-out story”