The wastewater treatment plant for Roatan’s West End, constructed in December 2011, has been “in full operation” for more than six months now but is still treating only about a third the sewage the designers anticipated, according to ACME Environmental Solutions, which built and operates the plant.
Dan Taylor, ACME’s general manager, said the plant was operating 12 hours a day as of late September and treating about 35 percent of the “designed volume” of wastewater, because only about a third of the intended users were connected to it.
As reported last December, as of a year after the plant was completed it was running only one or two days a week to keep it functioning properly, because not enough sewage was entering the plant to justify full-time operation. That was because only a handful of businesses and residences had hooked up to the collection system for the plant, which was installed at the time the West End Road was paved last year.
As part of the contract with Roatan Municipality to build the plant, ACME committed to operate the plant for one year. However, because the plant was operated only sporadically for more than a year, Taylor said, ACME interpreted the commitment to mean 365 days of actual operation. Using that criterion, he said, the operation contract expires October 10. He said ACME had submitted a proposal to renew the contract.
“We all want them to continue running it,” said Ian Drysdale of the Polo Water Association, the water board for the southern section of West End, below the roundabout. Drysdale said the Municipality planned to transfer responsibility for the plant soon to the Patronato (village council) for West End and the water boards would be responsible for charging the plant’s users to pay for the operating costs.
At press time there was still no system in place to charge users for treating their sewage. Drysdale said a consultant contracted by Polo would arrive October 1 to evaluate the system and recommend a schedule of usage fees.
The typical practice elsewhere is to charge for sewage based on some fraction of metered water use. Drysdale said Polo had installed meters on all its users to measure their potable water use. But he said the Half Moon Bay Water Service (the board for the water district above the roundabout) had still not installed meters for all of its members, something it must do before all users of the treatment plant can be charged fairly.