City working to rid worms from its wastewater plant

BALD KNOB, AR (KAIT) – Worms normally used as fish bait have found their way into the wastewater treatment plant in Bald Knob, and they have caused major issues in their new home.

Michael McAnelly, the city's water superintendent, says he discovered Tubifex worms in the plant last July. Workers drained at least a million gallons of water from the plant's basin shortly thereafter and uncovered red-colored clumps of worms blanketing the bottom.

"We're assuming that they came from our collection system originally," McAnelly said, "and, when conditions got just right for them in our basin, they began to multiply."

The Tubifex worms pose no safety risk to the public, but McAnelly says they have created headaches at the plant. He described how the worms have latched onto most of the equipment, and they have also depleted the food source for the micro-organisms that actually treating the water.

"They look like a small, very, very small, red worm," he added. "They clump together in a big ball, in a big mass whenever they're in the water."

McAnelly says the only solution is to physically remove the worms. The process is a costly one, but it should have no impact on service to neighbors.

"A lot of the work that's done and has been done in-house by our personnel," he explained. "(But) we're going to need some help to be able to get in and do the final fix on it."

The City of Bald Knob has hired a company to come in late June to vacuum out the Tubifex worms. Workers will also take out layers of sand and dirt built up over the years in the basin. McAnelly says this will hopefully remove a base for more worms to latch onto in the future.

"Other things that we've done, they really haven't responded," he said, "so really the only feasible thing that we can do at this point is to physically remove them."

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