Sycamore wastewater plant one of two in country joining pilot program

Director of Sycamore Public Works Matt Anderson, middle, talks during the Sept. 5, 2023 Sycamore City Council meeting as Finance Director Brien Martin, left, and Sycamore Chief of Police Jim Winters, right, listen.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore City Council has agreed for the city to take part in a nationwide pilot program that officials say will create a more efficient wastewater treatment at city facilities.

Beginning in 2024, Sycamore will pay $35,000 annually for three years to participate in the intermittent cycle extended aeration system 2.0 pilot program by Xylem Vue Powered by GoAigua, giving the city’s wastewater treatment plant access to Xylem’s scalable software that enables system optimization of wastewater treatment.

According to city documents, Sycamore will be home to one of two wastewater treatment plants selected for the new program across the country.

City Manager Michael Hall said, as a part of the agreement, Xylem will pay for and install a $137,840 sensor network at Sycamore’s wastewater treatment plant – the annual payment the city makes will specifically fund the software used in the program.

“The potential benefits of this pilot outweigh the expenses.”

—  Matt Anderson, Sycamore city public works director

“This equipment will be donated, and what we’re looking at is a yearly cost for the software system of $35,000 a year for a three year contract. After that I believe the equipment will be ours,” Hall said.

Sycamore Public Works Director Matt Anderson wrote in a letter to Hall that the $105,000 expenditure will be included in the fiscal 2024 budget and supported by sewer use fees.

“The potential benefits of this pilot outweigh the expenses,” Anderson wrote in the Aug. 30 document.

During Tuesday’s Sycamore City Council meeting Anderson said the program will essentially set up artificial intelligence through the sensor network to monitor what’s coming in and going out of plant. The monitoring will detect what’s in the water and then suggest potential scenarios to treat the water accordingly, Anderson said.

The goal, Anderson said, is to increase energy efficiency and ensure the right chemicals are added to the water precisely when they’re needed.

Before Sycamore City Council voted 7-0 to join the pilot program, 1st Ward Alderperson Alan Bauer said he thinks keeping the area’s water supply clean is a common goal for everyone with stakes in the Sycamore community.

“You know, water is one of our precious resources, and keeping the Kishwaukee [River] clean and healthy is paramount to all of our operations,” Bauer said.