The Deer Island WWTF in Winthrop, Mass., is one of the 20th century’s most challenging and successful environmental improvement projects. In a professional development initiative presented by GMWEA in conjunction with VRWA and NHWPCA, 32 operators and engineers took a bus from Burlington, Vermont, for a first-hand guided tour of this enormous, state-of-the art facility.
Serving 2.3 million people in 43 Boston-area communities, Deer Island is the largest waste water facility in New England and the second or third largest (depending on the criterion) in the US. Its average influent flow of over 300 mgd and maximum storm-influenced flow of over 1,280 mgd are accommodated while discharging consistently clear effluent through its 24-foot diameter, deep-ocean, gravity-fed 9.5-mile outfall tunnel. A total of 5,000 miles of sewer pipe serves the facility.
Completed in 2001, this mammoth plant replaced two aging and inefficient primary-only, near-shore discharge facilities. In design and construction, it reflects the desire to minimize environmental impacts, of every kind, on Massachusetts Bay. Its renewable energy systems, for example, provide more than half of the island’s electricity through a combination of methane biodigesters, wind turbines, solar power, and hydro-electric generation.
"This is the kind of learning experience we believe is particularly important for the professional development of Vermont's water quality workers," says GMWEA executive director Daniel Hecht. "It's something like a glimpse of the future, especially for those from smaller and older facilities." The Vermont DEC awarded tour attendees 2 TCHs for participating.
The tour was guided by plant process engineering staff. Adding a deep insider’s knowledge, they were accompanied by their former colleague, Charlie Tyler, who retired from the plant in 2017 after over 25 years of involvement in planning, design, construction, start-up, and process operations there.
Thanks are due to VRWA's wastewater specialists Wayne Graham and Elizabeth Walker for helping to manage the tour and for the photos!
Want to tour Deer Island in 2021? Let us know! Contact Daniel Hecht at email@example.com.