The big Blue Frog is hard at work for City of Alba

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Along about the time Paul Kelbe, public works director for the City of Alba, was a brand-new teenager at age 13, the popular folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, was tearing up the charts with hit songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” The trio released a song in 1967 that Kelbe and other folks involved with the City of Alba might be trying to adopt as their theme song in the near future.

That song was “I’m in Love with a Big Blue Frog.”

And sure, as the sun is going to rise again tomorrow morning, the folks in Alba are most likely to be in love with five big blue frogs, which are the backbone of the city’s new wastewater treatment facility.

The new wastewater treatment system has been in operation since Oct. 27, though all work won’t be completed until sometime later in the spring. And, the operation has been very pleasing to Kelbe thus far.

“We have had back-to-back three-inch rains in just a few days and we have been able to handle it without a problem so far,” Kelbe said Wednesday morning. He added, “We will have our 90 day samples taken and tested in a few days and that will give us some real solid idea of how the plant is operating, but I pulled some samples just checking Tuesday and they were very good, especially considering all the rain we have gotten.”

With the old system, Alba was using one one-horsepower pump in each of the two ponds at the wastewater treatment plant. Now there are three big Blue Frog pumps in the first pond and two big Blue Frog pumps in the second pond and each of them are driven by 10-horsepower motors. The way these units operate chances are great that neither of the two ponds will ever have to be dredged for the removal of sediment. That is a tremendous plus because aside from the huge expense of dredging and disposing of the sediment, there is also the problem of having a major part of your sewer treatment facility out of service for many months while the dredging is going on.

Alba did not dredge its ponds before installing the new system and Kelbe does not think that is going to be a problem at all.

“We had four-feet deep ponds and there was one to two feet of sediment in them, depending on which part of the pond you were talking about. We increased the height of the berms around our ponds to make the maximum pond depth to be five feet,” Kelbe said.

Next, he added a comment that surprises when he said, “The efficiency of our plant with the Blue Frog system should be such that the disposal activity in our ponds will eat away at the sediment we already have in the ponds and eventually even eliminate almost all of it.”

Installation of the Blue Frog system was so efficient that enough money was saved to pay for an additional project at the plant, which had previously been ruled out because of limited funds. That additional project will provide a new head-works where effluent enters the treatment facility.

The project was launched with the approval of $840,000 in bonds by the Texas Water Development Board August of 2015. After all the planning and engineering was completed in early 2016 the bid for the job was let in June of 2016 with HWH of Paris, Texas, getting the bid for construction on the project, which utilizes the anaerobic treatment system of the patented Blue Frog System.

Raymond Peek, HWH’s project manager for the Alba wastewater plant conversion to the patented Blue Frog system, is still spending lots of time at the plant even though there is no heavy construction going on there at the moment. Recently he and Kelby met up at the plant when Peek was there checking on the massive new electrical control system that makes all the magic happen in the ponds.

Both Peek and Kelbe agree that the operation of the plant since it went on line has been relatively trouble free.

Most of the work on the original project is complete except for switching the temporary anchoring of the five big Blue Frog units over to the permanent anchors, cosmetic chores which are usually the final touches of any be construction project. Still to be done is the construction of the newly-added project of a new head-works facility.

The cost effectiveness of the construction and operation of the Blue Frog system is drawing quite a bit of attention nationwide. The Alba plant is the second of its type to be utilized in this area of Texas. The first was installed at Cushing.

Apparently, the Texas Water Development Board agrees with all the plusses being heralded about the BlueFrog System because they approved the $840 in bonds for the financing of the Alba plant. When the TWDB announced the bonds, a statement in its announcement said,

“The City (Alba) could save approximately $23,787 over the life of the loan by using the Texas Water Development Fund.”

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