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A high-tech solution for a small school’s wastewater

Improvements to the wastewater treatment plant provided a reliable, cost-effective solution for meeting increasingly stringent discharge requirements and protecting Lake Shawnee and other waterways.

Jefferson Township Membrane Bioreactor Wastewater Treatment Plant


The northernmost township in Morris County, Jefferson Township was established in 1804 and named for Thomas Jefferson, whose presidency had ended three years earlier.

Built in the early 1960s, the Arthur Stanlick Elementary School in Jefferson serves about 380 children in grades three through five. The school is served by a wastewater treatment plant installed at the same time. The plant discharges effluent to a tributary to Lake Shawnee.

In 2003, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a new discharge permit for the plant, imposing stringent limitations on copper, zinc, and total phosphorus that must be met by September 1, 2008. An upgrade was needed to meet these new requirements.


In 2004, the Jefferson Township Board of Education retained Mott MacDonald to address the new requirements.


We evaluated a range of treatment alternatives:

  • Upgrading the existing treatment facilities
  • Constructing new treatment facilities
  • Discharging treated wastewater to groundwater

Construction costs were developed for each alternative. For the planning period of 20 years, we concluded that a new membrane bioreactor treatment plant would provide the most cost-effective and reliable solution.


Mott MacDonald designed the new membrane treatment plant for an average flow of 7,200 gallons per day (GPD) and a peak daily flow of 12,000 GPD.

In addition to a below-ground concrete trash trap, flow equalization tank, and raw-sewage pump station, the plant design included an advanced treatment building with these facilities:

  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Chemical feed
  • Ultraviolet disinfection equipment
  • Post-aeration

The design reused existing tanks to the extent possible and provided for new electrical controls and a standby backup generator.

Regulatory assistance

Mott MacDonald helped the Township obtain the following approvals and certifications:

  • Revision to the Wastewater Management Plan from NJDEP
  • Approval of New Jersey Highlands Commission
  • Individual Wetlands Permit from NJDEP
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Treatment Works Approval Permit
  • Morris County Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan Certification


Mott MacDonald helped the Township to apply for low-cost funding under the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust Program and to obtain a construction grant from the US EPA.


Construction of the new facilities began in January 2008. The plant is designed to provide chemical removal of phosphorus to meet a discharge limit of 0.1 milligrams per liter. It includes provisions for installing future additional equipment for removing copper.

The process design also included an anoxic zone and chemical feed facilities to provide the flexibility to implement full denitrification in the future. A new permit was issued in 2009 by the NJDEP, which required the facility to meet an effluent nitrate limit of 10 mg/l beginning in 2014. The facility was able to meet the new permit limit without additional modifications.

Improvements to the wastewater treatment plant provided a reliable, cost-effective solution for meeting increasingly stringent discharge requirements and protecting Lake Shawnee and other waterways.

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