During its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, the Paintsville Utilities Commission discussed the replacement of a blower at a wastewater treatment plant and weighed the pros and cons of going with a rebuilt unit versus a new unit, including warranty and lead time on the necessary part, while looking toward expansions planned for the future, including extending sewer service to Thelma.

"You've got that proposal in front of you, we'll get some more information on that today, as well. I've been questioned about the warranty on the rebuilt (unit)," said Paintsville Utilities General Manager Bob Pack. "Six months warranty on the rebuild, a year on the new. The turnaround time on the rebuild is several days, from the information in front of me, but it's eight to 12 weeks to get a new one in and I'm not comfortable in waiting that long."

The commission questioned Pack as to how long the blowers usually lasted.

"A long time, we're not in a position to have another one go down, and to be able to cover our plant," Pack said.

Commissioner Tim Webb asked if the commission should replace the currently faulty blower with a rebuilt unit and then plan to replace it with a new unit as it was available.

"We're looking, as we get through some of these other projects we've got, we're looking toward Thelma for sewer, and I would like to bundle a new aeration system into that proposed Thelma project, to make the plant more efficient and to work better ... I'd like to kind of keep an eye on (remanufactured units) if we can," Pack said, then transitioning into answering another question from Webb about a prior recommendation that, if a rebuilt unit was more than 50-percent of the cost of a new unit, the commission would use a new unit.

"We're trying to deviate from that recommendation, but it's mostly because of what I just said and probably even more so because of the lead time," Pack said. "I did get another text today regarding this, and there is an additional $1,592 for tearing it down to evaluate it."

"So that's $6,890 plus how much," asked Chairman Mitch Kinner.   

The commission then questioned as to whether that would make it more cost efficient to buy the new unit, but Webb backed Pack's position that the lead time for a new unit was unacceptable versus the cost savings, and the discussion continued, weighing the lead time versus when the new aeration system would be installed and Pack said that project was still something that wouldn't be started within the 6-month warranty window on the rebuilt unit.

Kinner put forth a motion to rebuild the existing unit, seconded by another commission member with Webb adding that he'd like to have a new unit ordered also to keep on hand in case there was an issue with the rebuilt unit. The commission passed the motion.

According to Water and Wastes Digest, the blower that the commission discussed was necessary for the breakdown of solid wastes, as wastewater is stored in large rectangular pools and aerated, with the blower pumping oxygen into the water to help bolster the growth and digestive processes of natural microbes as they break down the solid, organic wastes found in sewage in what is referred to as an "activated sludge process." Those microbes then "settle out," of the water and are removed into a separate tank and then reused, according to Water and Wastes Digest.

The Paintsville Utilities Commission meets on the first Monday of each month at 5 p.m. and all meetings are currently held virtually. Interested parties can reach out to the commission to request access to the meetings.