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10 Million Gallons Of Iowa City Wastewater Flowing Through Frozen Winter

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Keeping the daily 10 million gallon flow of wastewater from freezing can be a challenge in Iowa City on days when temperatures hardly climb above zero. Officials at the Iowa City wastewater treatment plant say this winter has presented a share of obstacles and even forced them to close one facility earlier than expected.

"We are now handling all of our operations at our [south plant]," said Dave Elias, Iowa City wastewater superintendent.

Earlier this month the city shut down the north wastewater treatment plant. The move had been in the works for years, but officials hadn't planned to switch all operations to the southern plant until later in the season.

"A combination of aging equipment and persistent sub-zero temperatures taxed the north plant's internal systems to the point where shutdown was required in early February," the city announced in a news release last week.

Elias said crews monitor the tanks to make sure water is constantly flowing during brutally cold days.

"The key is to keep things moving," he said.

Some days it is necessary for crews to add warmer water to the flow. At the final stage, cleaned wastewater is moved rapidly into underground piping, which feeds into the Iowa River.

Considering how harsh of a winter it has been, Elias said things have actually gone pretty smoothly. He said the biggest challenge has been for construction contractors who are putting the finishing touches on a $50 million dollar expansion at the south plant.

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