Blackburn Meadows Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade, Sheffield, United Kingdom

River Don

Blackburn Meadows wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is located in the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, UK.

It was built on a 78-acre site, which falls under the jurisdiction of Yorkshire Water. It currently serves around 800,000 inhabitants of the cities of Sheffield and Rotherham.

The plant was upgraded by a joint venture (JV) of AECOM and Galliford Try under two contracts worth £49m ($78m). The JV primarily improved and added new facilities at the site to expand the plant's capacity to serve up to 830,000 people.

Plant owner Yorkshire Water awarded the two contracts to the JV in April 2012. Worth more than £30m ($48m), the first enables the treatment plant to meet the requirements of the EU Freshwater Fish Directive (FDD).

Worth around £19m ($30m), the second contract enables the plant to treat 21,000t of sludge on an annual basis, with integrated thickening and dewatering processes. Upgradation was completed in April 2016.

Yorkshire Water's WWTP upgrade project

The project involved the construction of new inlet works, eight new primary settlement tanks, and aeration lanes, including the replacement of various facilities.

"It currently serves about 800,000 inhabitants of the cities of Sheffield and Rotherham."

All the upgradation works were part of the first contract and aimed to improve the quality of effluent being discharged into the River Don. The primary objective of the upgrades was to reduce the maount of ammonia to no more than 3mg a litre.

The second contract included the installation of a new mesophilic anaerobic digestion facility at the plant. It involved construction of buildings and various other pieces of equipment required to treat sludge. Mesophilic anaerobic digestion enables the breakdown of biodegradable materials using micro-organisms under moderate temperatures.

The new sludge treatment facility enables neighbouring farmlands to use the recycled sludge as manure. The facility also enables Yorkshire Water to generate 1.9MW of renewable energy using combined heat and power units.

The whole project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 6,500t, and greenhouse emissions by up to 30%.

The upgradation project also included improvements to the Don Valley Pumping Station and the combined sewer overflow, which will help control floods in the future.

Odour control system for the upgraded WWTP

The odour control system for the WWTP was provided by Pure Air Solutions and Plasticon UK as part of a contract awarded in December 2012.

The two companies integrated SULPHUS technology into the upgraded treatment plant under construction. The technology comprises a compact biotrickling filter (BTF) with a synthetic packing.

History of Blackburn Meadows wastewater facility

Construction of the Blackburn Meadows wastewater treatment plant began in 1884 and was completed in 1886. The plant comprised 30 precipitating tanks and 60 aerating tanks.

The wastewater was treated using lime, and sludge from the plant was used as manure in neighbouring farms. Sewage from Sheffield was conveyed initially through trains and later through trunk sewers.

Initially, effluent from the treatment plant was discharged into the River Don, causing pollution. The plant has since had a series of upgrades to improve the treatment system and effluent quality.

Past improvements to Sheffield's water treatment plant

The plant has witnessed several upgradation works over the years. A biological treatment system was introduced between 1905 and 1909 to improve the treatment of effluents, which replaced the lime-based treatment system.

"The whole project is expected to cut down carbon emissions by 6,500t and reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 30%."

A bio-aeration system was also introduced in 1914, which reduced the biochemical oxygen demand of the discharged effluents. The plant was yet unable to restrict the large content of ammonia, which had a large impact on the local aquatic life.

Major upgradation work was carried out in five phases from 1956 to 1969 to add a filter pressing plant, a preliminary treatment plant, a storm sewage treatment plant, new sedimentation tanks to replace the old ones, and a sludge incinerator.

From 1979 to 1983, a tunnel measuring 5.5m in width and 2.14km in length was constructed to connect the treatment plant to a drop shaft in Hawke Street, including a pumping station at the site of the treatment plant.

Soon after, in 1983, another tunnel connecting a drop shaft near Furnival Road was constructed, which included several sewers connecting various parts of the city.

In 1990, the filter presshouse and incineration plant were replaced by a new sludge-dewatering plant and a fluidised-bed incinerator to meet the requirements under the Waste Incineration Directive.

The problem of the ammonia levels was checked to an extent by 1992 with the introduction of a system using anoxic zones and a diffuse air activated sludge treatment.

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