Thursday, July 23, 2015

Blog #359 Colville Waste Treatment plant

 I was trying to come up with a cute title that wouldn't offend the few folks that read my blog, but just gave up.


I called Scott, who runs the plant with one other person, about a tour of his facilities and got a quick answer...sure come on down. I get the feeling they don't get many people wanting to walk around a sewage plant.


I met Scott in the analyzing room where tests are constantly being done to the water samples. Water is tested coming into the plant, as well as leaving, after the final process. 


Scott gave me a tour of the office area, lunchroom, drinking faucets (no thank you) and the lab. The reason they only need two full time employee's (plus one seasonal) is because nearly everything is automated. He can see and control all of the flows, discharges, ponds and pumps from this office and computer. 
The treatment plant is fairly new, built in 2007, and I was surprised at how clean the whole property was.


This is the room where it all starts, called the "head works building". Most of the waste is gravity fed from town, but the city does have 7 area's where a pump is used the get the effluent to the plant. The sewage flows freely to this device in the center of the room, it's called a Muffin Monster. There are two grinders and a brush where the fluid initially must pass to grind the material to a fine sand and remove the heaviest items in the flow. Scott says that Handi Wipes and male diapers cause the most problems. Handi Wipes because they are made of a slick material and male diapers, because of embarrassment, men will flush these down the toilet instead throwing them into a garbage can. This was the only room that had an unpleasant smell.


I am standing next to three pumps, located in the influent lift station, that pump the sewage from the muffin monster room uphill to the head of the 20 acre plant. I asked about future growth in the town and its effect on capacity and was told that in ten years, Colville has lost population and projections of future growth were nil. The plant can handle 1.45 million gallons a day and at present handles an average of 0.8 million. 


Here in the preliminary treatment building, there are two screening devices that take out the last bits of cloth, paper, sand and dump them into the large garbage dumpster.  


After the preliminary treatment building, the waste flows into these large two story selector tanks. There are good microbes and bad microbes and the only way to get rid of the bad is to kill all...by eliminating the oxygen. The average flow coming into the plant is about 580 gallons per minute.


Here is the companion tank (there are four) that is empty and you can see the mixer at the bottom. 


After the selector tanks the waste (devoid of microbes) flows into the aeration basin S curves and it is here that only good microbes are reintroduced to feed on the bad bacteria. 


After the aeration tanks the fluid goes into one of the two round clarifiers. As you might be able to tell, the water is already becoming much clearer. 


Here is the other clarifier that was empty at the time. The center device continues to slowly go around, mixing the fluid.



After flowing through the clarifiers the fluids are exposed to these UV light systems, much like I had with our Koi pond. The UV lights don't kill microorganisms, but makes them immediately sterile.


At this point, the fluid coming out of the UV room is sent straight to the Colville River. Despite not quite drinking quality, it does meet all federal laws for discharge into a waterway. The discharge is around 540 gallons per minute, the missing 40 gallons go into a settling pond.


  The small percentage of dead microbes and bacteria equal less than 10 percent of the inflow or about 40 gallons per minute. That 10 percent is pumped to the pond basins and evaporation keeps the pond level. There are 4 of these large ponds on 40 acres and only one with water in it. Because of redundancy, if the plant stopped working they would be able to use the three remaining ponds as catch basins allowing the city two weeks to correct any problem.
I asked about freezing in the winter causing problems? No, because nearly everything is in buildings, or underground, the winter does not slow the plant down other than the big pond freezing over.
Thanks to Scott for taking the time for me today.

Me? I live three miles from town and am on a septic system so while it is of interest to me...it does me no good.





Can't end a blog without a deer photo. This guy was on the side of the trail today where I walk in the morning and very unconcerned at my presences. 









Friday, July 17, 2015

Hello, Hello...are you out there babe?


That last night we were together at the hospital, I remember talking to you for hours, even though you were in a coma and I was blabbing away about nothing, when all of a sudden you turned your head with open eyes and looked at me. I knew immediately that your body just relaxed, your eyelids opened and you had passed away.  It would have been nice to think that you had to sneak one last peek at me before you went, but medically they'd think I was nuts. 


I never felt so alone in my life than at that moment, even though I had family in the room next to me. 
I'm going to try to keep track of things you've missed and send them to you, who knows whether you can actually get messages from beyond but here goes. 


Officially, the ruling at the hospital was that you had beaten the leukemia, but in doing so, it took such a toll on your body that you just couldn't recover.


You had a wonderful memorial at the house with all the neighbors. Paul made a beautiful church bench with a plaque on it "To Donna from the neighborhood". Denny, Laura and Ashley were there, all the neighbors and Duane surprised me by flying up for your memorial.  



Next came the memorial in Las Vegas. Your girlfriends really outdid themselves. They had it all organized for me and attended by so many people we both knew. All your coworkers, lots of the old bosses and all my family. We had a good celebration for you honey. 



After Vegas, I did what you asked me to do.  I went home, picked up the dogs, and drove down to see our granddaughter Kendra Moon born. She is so beautiful and a day early! 




Two days later Riley and I went to see Jessica get married. It was a beautiful ceremony, I sure wish you could have seen it, very fancy. After that, the dogs I headed home. 



Two weeks later I went to North Fork, Idaho because I know how much you enjoyed camping there. I went to our favorite place for a beer, Booker's Retreat, and they ask about you and were saddened by your passing. I was supposed to meet Chrissy in the Tetons  (I think my family is trying to keep me busy) but I went home after North Fork, just too tired to go on and needed some rest. 



 
I've been busy acquiring firewood for the coming winter. I get the dogs groomed just like you did and give them their flea ointment, just as you would have done. Benji and Missy have been keeping your side of the bed warm for me. At times they still run to your door of the car when I come home expecting you to open it.



Nona and her dad (he's 94 and kicking) came up to give me some moral support... her dad wants to buy land and build his house. Again, he's 94, but you really don't want to discourage someone's dream no matter how old they are.



Haven't gone anywhere lately, but I did take up walking to try and rid myself of the weight I put on while in Seattle. What I really need is you putting me on Weight Watchers like before, that worked really well back then. 



We've had a few parties in the neighborhood and there is always the question, "how are you doing Tom" and you know what my answer is, babe? "I'm doing well". As you and I have discussed in the past, life must go on for the survivor. Do I miss you? Oh my, like the dickens!  



This week while coming home from Spokane I started talking to you out loud. Good thing I was alone or the boys may of had me committed. I was apologizing to you for your only getting three years in retirement before I remembered all the vacations, trips and boats we did or had while we worked. We lived half our life in semi-retirement, didn't we. That  made me feel a little better. 



Honey, I love our home and sometimes the only consolation I can find in being here is that, if it was me who had passed first, you would have sold the house an gone back to Las Vegas where your girlfriends are. I'm staying, I love what is to be our last home. 
You are still here with me and there is no "till death do us apart" clause in our love, even in death you are my one and only...I love you. 

Sorry to ramble on babe and I really hope you can somehow see this. You know how important the blog is for me and this would be where you'd look first, if you can. 













Sunday, July 12, 2015

Colville Rotary Trail

For a small town we have a pretty neat walking path. I have walked around my neighborhood in the past, but other than worrying about bears and cougars, it's really kind of boring. Barking dogs and narrow dirt roads lined by tall pines with not much to see.
The Colville Rotary Trail has a number of different configurations and mileages. The neat thing about the trail is that goes around the back side of the golf course, through pastures, farm fields, the airport and then the high school before it cuts back between the 10th and 11 hole of the Colville Dominion Golf Club. (duck!) The average distance is 2.5 miles, but a side trail up a hillside adds another 1 mile if you'd like.


It was nice of the rotary club to build the trail and thanks to the Elks for allowing the trail to cut directly through the golf course. Thumbs up to the private landowners for dedicating some of the their land to the city. 


Here is where the trail goes downhill through the course. If you happen to start on the other side...then it is uphill. That is the high school in the upper left hand corner.


The trail is crushed rock and dirt, level on the sides and easier to walk on than cement.


I am greeted most mornings by these two beautiful horses in a pasture.


The area around the golf course is riddled with ground squirrel holes. My very first early walk on the trail made me think someone was shooting at, or near me. Turned out it was the golf course personnel who go out at sunrise and drop cherry bombs or M80's down the holes.


The Scotch Thistle is a very noxious weed in Eastern Washington. If it gets a hold on pasture land, the cattle will be forced out.


Wherever you see Typha (cattails) you will find water or marsh lands.


A dandelion flower soon turns into a seed head. 


The trail has plenty of shady spots along the way to provide a break from the summer heat.


The day before, I saw this chinook with a water bucket fly over me on its way to the airport. I accidently filmed it in slow motion and then saw that the helicopter had disturbed a bald eagle, which is flying in the lower right hand corner.


The chinook landed about three hundred yards from me and its bucket is sitting on the opposite side of the pole.


Some of the pasture land along side the trail.


This first pond is called Harry's Pond. I'll assume that when they put in the back nine, Harry was somehow instrumental in its formation. You'll always see ducks, thousands of birds, hawks and eagles on the walk.


This larger pond has no name, according to the lady at the golf shop. She said she was more worried about avoiding it while playing...than naming it.

All in all this is a very pleasant way of getting some exercise during spring, summer and fall. The trail becomes an excellent cross country ski or snowshoe trail in the winter.





Friday, July 3, 2015

Now, instead of wind... we have fires!

Well, I guess the stupid season is upon us. Someone playing with fireworks (according to the radio) started a pretty big fire on the opposite side of the valley from me.



The fire is five or so air miles from the house, but things are so freaking dry this year, I am surprised fireworks are even legal.




As I drove down the hill to investigate (being noisy) I can see that this may be a serious problem for firefighters as the fire raced up the hillside.





Some of the flames are much taller than the 80 foot pine trees nearby. 


Besides racing up the hill, flames are bursting out at a much lower level fanned by winds.


I have to say that this is the first time I witnessed a Chinook Helicopter dropping water.


This poor guy had trouble finding a deep enough place in our drought starved Colville River to fill up. There was also a tanker and small single engine with pontoons that I suspect glided over to the Columbia to fill up.
Wish us luck this weekend.






Thursday, July 2, 2015

Colville Wind


I have never been in a hurricane or tornado, but some of my neighbors across the valley described the wind the other day as such.
I was up at the Elks last night, having my usual sarsaparilla, when I asked Butch about the wind. He suggested I drive up and see for myself. Butch and a bunch of folks live on a hill, just like ours, only on the opposite side of the valley, about 10 miles from me.     



My first indication of trouble was when every few hundred feet I saw guardrails crushed, by fallen trees.


For miles I would see hillsides unaffected by the wind and others absolutely devastated.


Some trees, 20 to 30 inches in circumference, were snapped 8 feet above the ground...like toothpicks.



Many larger trees had been uprooted and were leaning on houses.


    While looking up what kind of wind does this type of damage, I found "downburst". This or a microburst seems to best describe the storm. Thunderheads with light rain are a common source, same as what we had that day.
Either way it looks like tiddlywinks to me.


Yep, still practicing my panorama on the phone. As you can see, if the wind doesn't snap a tree, it uproots the whole thing.


In the middle of the damage is Black Lake, a place I have gone many times to view moose.


I've been told by a few neighbors that if you drive dirt roads (which I love doing) always carry a chainsaw in case you run across downed trees. Do you think I'd ever heed their advice? Even after Donna and I had to turn around one day after traveling 15 miles on a dirt road, I still haven't bought one.


Lucky for me the vacation home folks on Black Lake beat me up to the lake...lol


The resort lodge at the lake took quite a beating. This damage and three other trees crushed the lodge.


This tree on a ridge fascinated me. Not only snapping it 20 feet up, but also partially stripping the bark. I think to myself how awesome it would be to watch this unfold, but then my common sense starts to say things like "are you out of your freaking mind"!


As I came back into the Colville Valley, I see some of the smoke from the Wenatchee fire about 200 miles south of here starting to drift into our area. Bummer!







Saturday, June 20, 2015

Krois hay and grain farming


As I continue my blogging, I will start with a family that has farmed in the Colville Valley since the '40's. Andy and Bobbi Krois are the parents of Ange who happens to live on the property across the street from me. 
I had once said that I would be interested to know the in's n out's of hay farming at a party about two months ago at Ange's house. Andy remembered and invited me down to his fields while they worked this week. 



Andy first explained that today they were cutting triticale grain, which is a hybrid of wheat and rye, but were only baling some left over alfalfa they cut a couple days ago.




Andy's son Steve, is cutting the grain with his John Deere Powr-Reverser 890. They cut it and leave the grain to dry for a day or two before baling. The moisture has to be just right or they must use a drying agent on the baler.


  
Steve took me for a round of cutting. It was a rough ride caused by gopher mounds, but air conditioning and stereo did help, although I asked where the 27 inch flat screen was...never said I was a farmer.


The triticale grain is slightly larger than wheat grain and is used exclusively for forage and feed.




The tall grain is grown alongside a field of alfalfa, also belonging to Andy, that was cut three weeks ago and being watered for another cutting this summer.



Andy's machine can bale very large round bales...called big rounds. The inside of the tractor had as many dials, knobs and handles that a small plane might possess. From the inside the operator can control size, moisture, weight and more with the controls.


Close-up of the baling (or bailing according to Websters) machine.


Here is the net that wraps the "big rounds" much like you would use Costco Stretch-Tite that I use for a cob of corn that is going into the microwave.


The big rounds run between 900 and 1100 pounds, depending on what crop is being cut. With the 4-5 big rounds per acre and Andy's 500 acres...that amounts to quite a bit of forage.


Andy wanted to take my photo and had me back up into the shower from the pivot...jeez it was cold.



The 1/5 mile center pivot nearly cover 1/2 mile in diameter area. Andy draws straight out of the Colville River and is worried that he can only do it for one or two weeks more. The warm winter gave us the correct amount of annual precipitation, but no snow pack to speak of, which is what would of carried the river well into September. Each section of the pivot is independently motorized and a little computer box tells the wheels when to catch up to the section in front.


Free car wash, but after driving the 1/2 mile dirt road leaving the field, the car was a mess!



Andy used another tractor later in the day to move the recently rolled bales off to the side and out of the way of the pivot. In a day or two a semi will come and start loading the rounds for sale. 
I live on the hill behind the tractor.


If you look up and down the 20 mile Colville Valley during this time of year you will see thousands of "big rounds" sitting in the field just waiting to be taken away.