The renovation, repair and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, were officially completed in January 2020. PENETRON ADMIX was used to ensure durable concrete structures for the plant to better serve a growing community.
The town of Truth or Consequences (or “T or C” as locals call it) is the administrative and economic center of Sierra County in southern New Mexico. With mild winter weather and warm summers, the town of about 7,500 inhabitants has a large contingent of year-round retirees, but it is also a popular tourist destination. The town’s historic district, the numerous hot springs and mineral baths, Elephant Butte Lake State Park and Caballo Reservoir, the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway, and the recently completed Spaceport (30 miles east of T or C) define its vibrant tourist-based economy.
“Why the strange name? In fact, the town of Truth or Consequences was originally named ’Hot Springs,’ due to all the natural hot springs in the region. The current name came about when a game show host back in the 1950s dared any town in the USA to change their name to the same name as the TV show,” explains Christopher Chen, Director of The Penetron Group. “Our town in New Mexico took the dare – and changed the town name to Truth or Consequences. A more recent challenge was to find a suitable waterproofing solution for the recent repairs, expansion and upgrades to the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Penetron was chosen as their preferred solution.”
Renewing an Aged WWTP
The wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) that serves the T or C community is over 40-years old. Because many of the plant’s process components had reached the end of their design life, and other parts of the treatment processes needed increasing levels of attention to maintain the desired level of performance. The WWTP was operating at approximately 70% of its original design flow (1.06 MGD), where previously it had operated at almost 95% of design flow. In addition, the anticipated, more stringent nutrient limitations for nitrogen and phosphorus meant that the existing treatment processes needed to be improved, and the growing demand for the reclaimed wastewater would also require further process upgrades.
Upgrading Concrete Elements
“All these issues were addressed simultaneously with a comprehensive renovation and upgrade program for the wastewater treatment plant to provide increased capacity and produce higher quality wastewater effluent,” notes Christopher Chen.
An engineering report showed that many of the original concrete elements of the original T or C wastewater treatment plant needed extensive repairs or outright replacement (and enlargement). These WWTP elements included the headworks, grit chamber, aeration oxidation oval, two clarifiers, and disinfection system.
“Initially, a competitive solution was specified by the consulting engineer at Smith Engineering,” adds Christopher Chen. “However, after reviewing the cost benefits and local technical and on-site support available from Penetron, the specification was revised to PENETRON ADMIX SB instead.”
Reducing Concrete Permeability
The concrete structures in a wastewater treatment plant are continually exposed to an aggressive environment that includes chlorides, sulfates, nitrates, disinfectants, an array of toxic compounds and even the chemicals added during the plant’s treatment processes. Adding PENETRON ADMIX SB to the concrete mix reduces concrete permeability, increases chemical resistance and enables self-sealing of new hairline cracks to enhance the durability of these key concrete components. Delivered in pre-measured soluble bags, PENETRON ADMIX SB was added by Bartoo Ready Mix to over 1,200 cubic yards (920 m3) of concrete.
“The T or C project was a success thanks to the on-site support by our local Penetron expert and Penetron’s success in dozens of previous wastewater treatment plant upgrades across the country,” concludes Christopher Chen.