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Bloomington And Normal Water Reclamation District To Host 100th Anniversary Open House

About 100 years ago, Sugar Creek running through Bloomington-Normal was "pretty disgusting," according to Randy Stein, the director of the Bloomington and Normal Water Reclamation District.

A meat-packing plant in Bloomington dumped directly into the creek, including offal, Stein said, and most household sewage went into Sugar Creek as well. Now, there are bass and other river life downstream of the Twin Cities.

The Bloomington and Normal Water Reclamation District (BNWRD) will host an open house Saturday to celebrate 100 years of existence in the Twin Cities.

Its west Bloomington plant first opened in June 1928 to create a sanitary placement for waste. It came about because of lawsuits filed in 1914 by residents. A referendum passed a century ago creating the district. Now, the plant processes 30 million gallons of wastewater from Bloomington-Normal per day, turning wastewater into clean and safer water.

BNWRD Executive Director Randy Stein said much has changed.

“In 1928, when the plant first started, we had a process that utilized an m off tank and a trickling filter,” Stein said. “The goal is to remove BOD or biological oxygen demand and to reduce the amount of ammonium discharge in the creek. Since 1928, there have been many modifications in the 40s, 60s, 80s, and even as late as the 2000s. The community has grown and therefore the need to add capacity has taken place in the district.”

BNWRD consists of the southeast plant on 700 North Road that serves east Bloomington-Normal and the Village of Downs. The plant serves over 7 million gallons of wastewater. The west plant on Oakland Avenue serves most of Bloomington combined sewers that stores 80 million gallons of wastewater.

Aside from cleaning out food and human waste, the waste district to filters out contaminants like nitrates and phosphorus in water that comes from heavy rainfall and farm runoff.

Attached to one of the treatment plant outflows is a 16 acre wetland. Stein said that extra natural filter process helps remove nitrates missed by other treatment steps. He said very few treatment plants have such wetlands attached.

The Open House will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Plant on Oakland Ave. It will consist of a tour of the west plant and refreshments.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
Darnysha Mitchell is an Illinois State University student and reporting and social media intern at WGLT.