KRWG

Time for big upgrade at Las Cruces Wastewater Treatment Facility

Mar 10, 2019

A huge silver-colored piece of equipment weighing more than eight tons and called a “heating water jacket” is poised outside one of the primary digesters at the Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility (JHWWTF), ready to be installed. After more than 35 years of service, it’s time to replace the old jacket.

For Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), replacing parts for the JHWWTF infrastructure is a little more difficult than you taking your car to a mechanic, because this is going to involve a crane.

But what does the heating water jacket do? First, let’s get an idea of what a digester does and why the heating water jacket is critical to processing millions of gallons of wastewater every day at the Facility. The primary digester reduces and stabilizes the volume of sewage sludge produced within JHWWTF. Each digester handles approximately 438,000 gallons of the facility’s wastewater solids at all times.

“The heating water jacket acts as a heat exchanger transferring heat to the solids as they are in suspension and being mixed within the digester,” explained Lorenzo Martinez, JHWWTF plant manager. That’s important as inside the system are anaerobic microorganisms that thrive at a 98-degree temperature. Those microorganisms help breakdown and reduce the wastewater solids to a sludge mixture that is relatively odor free and dewaterable. 

During the operation of the digesters, the microbes produce methane gas that is used as a fuel source for two Co-Generation units. Those units convert the methane into electricity that runs part of the wastewater facility.

But with decades of use under its belt, the old heating water jacket has a leak that reduces efficiency of the digester’s operation. 

“The replacement of the heating water jacket will improve the efficiency of the digester operation by restoring the heat transfer within the digester back to its normal operation,” continued Martinez. “It will also prevent equipment damage caused by the leak, which allows sludge to contaminate the heating water loop that can damage the pumps, the heating water boiler, and system valves.” 

The cost of the new heating water jacket is $118,570 and the cost to remove the old one and install the new will cost $295,000. The contractor is Smithco Construction, Inc. and it’s expected to take 65 working days to complete the work.

Submitted by Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.