Waterfall Aeration Works

by Renso Gasparotto, (M.ASCE), Sr. Engr. and Project Mgr.; Greeley and Hansen, 100 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 10, Pg. 52-54

Document Type: Feature article


When they sought an alternative for instream aeration in Chicago's Calumet Waterway System, engineers at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) brought nature's method of purifying water up onto the stream bank. The agency is installing five waterfall parks where stagnant canal water is lifted into a series of elevated, shallow sidestream pools connected by waterfalls, then returned to the stream. The five stations, expected to add some 25 tons of oxygen per day, are designed to maintain minimum waterway dissolved oxygen (DO) levels ranging from 3.0 mg/l in the Cal-Sag Channel to 5.0 mg/l in the Calumet River. The cost of the Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration (SEPA) project is $40 million compared to a projected $300 million for conventional advanced wastewater treatment facilities. Because aeration is required only during warm weather, the stations operate only from May through October. Seasonal operation was one of the criteria set forth in the earyl 1980s when MWRDGC first reviewed alternatives to the existing in-stream aeration stations. The agency proposed the design to the Illinois Pollution Control Board, then verified aeration rates with a full scale test station in 1987-1988.

Subject Headings: Aeration | Water treatment | Water reclamation | Waterways | Rivers and streams | Project management | Dissolved oxygen

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