City rids wastewater system of pesky worms

BALD KNOB, AR (KAIT) – Worms normally used as fish bait somehow found a new home at the bottom of the wastewater treatment plant in Bald Knob.

The city did not take too kindly to their new residents and have promptly had them removed.

Last week, water superintendent Michael McAnelly had the basin at the city's wastewater plant drained. As the water receded, a two- to three-foot layer of sludge was revealed.

McAnelly believed Tubifex worms were living on top of that, but the problem was much worse.

"They were all through it [the sludge]," McAnelly explained. "Plus, there was a layer of Tubifex on the bottom between the final layer of crust and the clay liner."

He says the worms were essentially everywhere, so the city of Bald Knob paid a hefty price tag to hire a company to physically remove them from their not-so-new home.

"After seeing the amount of infestation there was," he said, "we're pretty sure that it has been an ongoing problem that's just kind of lying below the surface building up over the time."

McAnelly took photos showing how deeply the worms how burrowed into the sludge, likening them to combing out "strands of hair." The worms had even clogged up key pieces of equipment, including a pipeline in the clarifier.

It took seven full work days to vacuum out all the worms, but once the work was complete, McAnelly says his men moved onto other needed repairs to the 20-year-old facility.

"I'm very thankful for the employees. They've put in a lot of hard effort," he said, "and I'm thankful for the company that came in and did the work for us. They did a very good job."

McAnelly says the plant will now run better than it has in years, adding: "We don't expect to have a Tubifex problem any time in the near future."

McAnelly began refilling the plant's basin with one million gallons of water Friday afternoon.

He says it will likely take another two weeks before the system is up and running again, but neighbors should see no difference in service.

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