In May 2009, federal, state, and local officials broke ground on the largest "green infrastructure" project in the State of Kansas to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 -- nearly $18 million in a series of improvements to Johnson County's Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Treatment Plant (DLSMB).
The facility is located in Overland Park, bordered by commercial and residential development. Originally constructed in 1979, it was recently expanded from 12 million gallons per day (MGD) to 14.5 MGD and upgraded to meet strict nitrogen and phosphorus effluent goals. As a result of that expanded liquid treatment capacity, additional solids processing capabilities were needed. Thus plans were developed to expand the anaerobic solids treatment system.
This project was “shovel ready,” which was a requirement for funding when the ARRA was approved in 2009. Through the Environmental Protection Agency's State Revolving Fund program, administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, this project was awarded $17.8 million as a “green” project with $8.1 million of this amount as principal forgiveness or in other words, a grant.
The co-generation facility at the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Wastewater Treatment Plant produced 7,014,000 kWh of green power (power produced off the grid) in 2013.
The project was originally borne of the desire to increase solids handling capacity while reducing the carbon footprint. In December 2007, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one third by 2020, County-wide by 80 percent by 2050, and to reduce GHG from energy use in new and largely renovated County buildings to zero by 2030. The project, built by contractor BRB Contractors, Inc. of Topeka, Kan., was officially approved by the Johnson County Board of Commissioners in March 2009.
Components of the treatment plant improvements included the construction of a new anaerobic digester, a FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) station to more efficiently receive and treat used greases and oils from restaurants and industries, and a cogeneration system to produce virtually all of the plant's annual operating energy from captured biogases.
This project has attracted a good deal of attention, starting with the groundbreaking ceremony attended by dignitaries from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Johnson County, and several media crews from local newspapers and TV stations.
- The Environmental Protection Agency had a film crew out to shoot video to put on their website.
- In February 2010, Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Administration and Resources Management, made a site visit to tour the project. Prior to his visit, he had recently highlighted this project during testimony on Capitol Hill (page 5) regarding EPA’s progress in implementation of the ARRA program in 2009.
- At the summer meeting of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, this project received the National Environmental Achievement Award.
- Kansas City’s KCTV Channel 5 featured this project as a part of its investigation series, Road to Recovery? Going Green.
- This project also made Vice-President Biden’s list of “100 Recovery Act Projects that are Changing America.”
- MARC Sustainable Success Stories Award
- NEHA Sustainability Award