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Aquarion's Westerly, Rhode Island sewer project award winner

Ellyn Santiago - Special to The Sun

WESTERLY - Five years after the voters blessed a multimillion-dollar bond for an upgrade to the Margin Street wastewater treatment plant the Narragansett Water Pollution Control Association bestowed its 2003 Most Improved accolade on the plant. Although operational during much of the rehab, but is nearing official completion.

"It's just about done," said assistant town engineer Glenn Hedman, an environmental scientist and certified wastewater treatment plant operator.

"And the smell should be much better. Much cleaner water is going into the (Pawcatuck) River and that's excellent. That's what we're there to do."

Aquarion Services runs the plant as a contractor for the town, Hedman explained, with that company responsible for day-to-day operations. The $7 million upgrade was listed as a top priority Department of Environmental Management project and was blessed by voters more than five years ago.

"We're using an integrated, fixed-film activated sludge process - a biological process that removes the ammonia and total nitrogen; we've never treated for that before and that was part of our state permit," Hedman said. "We were under a consent decree from DEM and needed to do the upgrade. We're state of the art now, definitely."