Whitefeather, when they say "bypassing" that simply means that most of the STORM water is being by passed. It is my understanding that that basin has been valved off and it is passing threw another basin. That basin appears to have been some sort of an oxidation ditch from the pictures that I've saw. An oxidation ditch is used as a settling basin and starts the process of (in layman's terms) the bugs eating the organics. This can be accomplished in a clarifier as well. The state and EPA require that to "bypass" there has to be biological removal of the organics. If there is no biological treatment what so ever then it's called a spill which fines can range from but, not limited to $10,000 a spillage, $10,000 an hour, $100,000 for a prolonged event and jail time which if negligence is found on the part of the superintendent she could be facing serious charges. One must have a license to operate a waste water plant and it is clearly known that WE even as operators can be jailed for failure to do our jobs, or falsifying information. The test takes over 4 hours to finish and a degree is calculus would be a major benefit. It's THAT HARD.
I don't want to sound as if I'm down playing this event. It's tragic and horrific for the families of the operators. With time the families of the souls lost will heal just as the river and aquatic life.
Without sending fear across this board and anyone that we come into contact with I will say that at some point or another a sewage plant or it's lift stations will have an over flow. A pump will fail, or the power will go out, or there just won't be enough space or detention time to hold all the water coming into the plant. You can plan for growth but, no one really knows the exact population of a city in the next 20 years. Once the maximum capacity of a treatment plant has been reached then there has to be expansions and they are costly, VERY costly. They must be budgeted and funds found or made for such a major undertaking. The City of Maryville just spent $30 million expanding it's waste treatment plant and it's a sight to be seen on a scare that is on par for a city the size of Nashville. The holding capacity and ability to treat even the greatest of rain events is astounding.
I did not know any of the operators lost in Gatlinburg but, I have offered my knowledge and time free of charge while the others cope with the loss and grieve with the families.