John Whalen, Interview on Waste Water Treatment Department of Salisbury-Lakeville
This is file #33, cycle 2. This is Jean McMillen. Today’s date is July 6, 2016. I am interviewing John Whalen who is in charge of the Waste Water Treatment Department in Lakeville and Salisbury, Connecticut. We’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
JM:What is your birthdate?
JM:Where were you born?
JM:Your parents’ names?
JW:Joseph and Victoria
JM:Do you have siblings?
JW:All boys Andy is the oldest, Martin, Peter, Tim and myself.
JM:Are you the youngest?
JW:I am the youngest.
JM:After high school you went into the Navy, didn’t you?
JM:Oh that is a good education.
JM:When did the Sewer Department start?
JW:this department right here started in 1970-71.
JM:But before that…
JW:They were doing sewer lines in 1916.
JM: In 1916 they were talking about putting sewer lines around Lake Wononskopomuc.
JW:And they have talked about it ever since.
JM:But they have not done it yet?
JM:What is the area that is covered with your department?
JW:Basically the center of Salisbury, Lakeville, Hotchkiss School, and Lion’s Head is on. Noble Horizons is on; but the big issue is Hotchkiss.
JM:You said that it is about 17 miles of lines?
JW:There is about 17 miles of sewer lines.
JM:What is the size of the pipes?
JW:They go from 8 inch to 24 inch.
JM:What is the material?
JW:The ones in Lakeville are the old clay tile; the ones in Salisbury are what they call ACP which is Asbestos Cement Pipe.
JM:How many pumping stations do you have?
JW:We have Salisbury station at the end of the railroad tracks which is on Salmon Kill; East Meadow which is off Fowler Street, and Farnam Road station is off Walton Street right up here at the end of the road.
JW:Interlaken which is by Hotchkiss School boat house
JM:When was the Salisbury pumping station upgraded?
JW:It has never been upgrades; it is in the process of being upgraded now.
JM:The Farnam Road pumping station?
JW:That was upgraded in 2003.
JM:How about the Interlaken?3.
JM:How about East Meadow?
JW:Was in 2011 I believe.
JM:We don’t have any lead pipes in our sewer system.
JM:Good. Was it part of the Fire District at one time? (See File #55, John Mongeau)
JW:Yes when the town took it over on the early 1970’s and late 1960’s, they took over the Fire District, the sewer.
JM:This plant here was built in the 1970’s?
JW:in the 1960’s-1970’s yep
JM:Where was the prior plant, the plant before this one?
JW:Oh out back, there was no building, it was just a little shed. And what they call in house tanks which are glorified septic tanks.
JM:Were they cement tanks?
JM:I have had oral histories of people who grew up here in town and they went down and played in the sewer beds. (See tape # 129 Marion Romeo or File# 18-21 Cynthia Barnett Smith)
JW:They walked down the pipe back here on the piers.
JM:Somethings don’t change.
JM:Do the Connecticut Regulations change frequently?
JW:They haven’t changed much. They are getting a little bit tougher now than they were before, but they haven’t changed a lot.
JM:Do they change on an annual basis or every 5 years or 10 years?
JW:Usually the permit is for 5 years. You may see a change on your new permit. So it would be every five years. (He sends in monthly reports to the state.) Unless it is something that they really want to get through fast; then they will send you a change in the permit perhaps midway.
JM:Now you are Waste Water Treatment Department, do you have a connection with Aquarian Water Company which is the water supply?
JM:How long have you been head of this department?
JW:I have been the head for 34 tears; I have been here 44 years.
JM:How did you get the job?
JW:There was a job opening and I had already taken a job with Community Fuel. This job came up and my uncle was here then.
JM:Who was your uncle?
JW:Turk, or James and I did not want to pass up working for my uncle so I took this job.
JM:You must be pretty good at it because you are still here.
JW:I like it and nobody bothers me.
JM:Except me! Well, how often have you been interviewed for your job?
JM:This is a first. Do you have staff?
JM:His name is?
JM:How long has he been here?
JW:He has only been here 4 years, the last four years.
JM:What do you actually do?
JW:We maintain the pump station, this place, the sand beds out back, the UV lights out back and the 17 miles of sewer lines.
JM:How do you treat waste water?
JW:You do it with mixing which is out here in the aeriation tank.
JM:I was watching that.
JW:Then you have settling in the clarifiers.5.
JM:Is that sand?
JW:No, then after you go through the clarifiers or settling tanks, you go on to what they call tertiary treatment which is the sand filters.
JM;Do you use any chemicals?
JM:What is UV disinfectant?
JW:Instead of chlorine we use Ultra violet lights.
JM:How many gallons do you treat at a time?
JW:We average 400,000 gallons a day. The plant is designed for 670,000 gallons.
JM:So you are still under capacity?
JM:Do you think that it is going to up to capacity?
JW:I don’t think so.
JM:What is trucking?
JW:We truck our sludge which is a byproduct of the treatment.
JM:Where does it go?
JW:It goes to Veolia Water in Naugatuck.
JM:Do you do that by the ton or?
JW:We do it by the gallon and usually we truck approximately 92,000 gallons four or five times a year.
JM:What is engineering?
JW:That is what we are working on now with the upgrade of this place, the rebuild of the new pump station and also nutrient and phosphorus removals. But they say now it will stay as phosphorus.
JW:Because it contributes to algae.
JM:Ok I know about algae. Any future upgrades or plans to change?
JW:There may be a different aeriation here probably but when it will be I don’t know. I would have to talk with them.
JM:Who is “them” the state?
JW:Yes the engineers.
JM:Are you appointed by the town or elected or?
JW:I am appointed.
JM:What is your term?
JM:I understand that.
JW:I was just a hire back then and nobody has …
JM:You have done such a good job that nobody is going to complain. Don’t mess with success. What else should I ask you about the Waste Water Treatment Department that I haven’t asked you?
JW:There is really not much. You’ve done it very well.
JM:Alright we will leave it there then. Thank you so much.