Tens of millions of gallons of water flow daily through the three wastewater facilities operated by Georgia’s Athens–Clarke County Public Utilities Department, and the methodical filtering process ensures a clean and safe supply for businesses, homes and organizations the department serves.
The North Oconee wastewater facility, built in 1962 and the largest of the three plants, is run by operator supervisor Erin Carlton, and presents some unique operational challenges. As a trickling filter plant, a fixed–growth system where wastewater flows across a layer of slime created by aerobic microorganisms that extract organic matter for energy, the potential for nuisance pests is high.
"Pests such as filter flies are indicative of a trickling filter plant and need to be effectively controlled during the warmer months of April to October. If they aren’t, the area can become almost uninhabitable for the plant staff," explained Carlton.
Filter flies, tiny gray insects with light–colored wings, often breed in huge numbers in the gelatinous film covering the trickling filters at plants like North Oconee. The mechanics of a trickling filter provide an ideal environment for the flies because of the constant temperatures. They lay their eggs in irregular masses, and once hatched, their dense flight groups are a significant nuisance to plant personnel.
Needing a reliable solution to control filter flies, the North Oconee plant long ago turned to Strike® Pellets by Zoëcon Products, and when Carlton joined the facility 10 years ago, the product was already an integrated, effective component of the overall insect control solution.
"Using the Strike Pellets, we have constructed a variety of creative application methods over the years because always finding the most economical, yet effective solution, is important to us," Carlton said. Traditionally applied with hand or motorized spreaders, backpack blowers or aerially with fixed–wing aircraft, Carlton’s team instead constructed a unique containment and dispensing unit where the water flows over the Strike® Pellets and discharges the product into areas in need of filter fly control.
"We’re definitely using it in non–traditional ways and by doing that, we’re able to successfully hit all of the large breeding grounds to eliminate the flies," Carlton said. "We feed it continuously, 24–hours–a–day, seven–days–a–week during the warmer temperatures so they never get a chance to breed," he finished.
The Strike® Pellets have worked so well for Athens–Clarke County that Carlton considers the product one of the yearly non–negotiable purchases made by the plant. "The product is absolutely wonderful and even with budget cutbacks, Strike Pellets is one product I do not plan on ever letting go."
He continued, "It is essential for our operations and before I would give up Strike Pellets, I would give up other products used in the facility. Our staff does not need to be breathing filter flies and with Strike Pellets they never have to."
Strike® Products, available in a variety of formulations, contain the insect growth regulator (IGR) (S)–methoprene, which is a copy of natural products in an insect’s body. (S)–methoprene disrupts normal development and prevents the emergence of adult filter flies and midges. Continued use of Strike® Products keeps these pests from rebounding into unmanageable infestations.