INDEPENDENCE – “Goodbye Tension – Hello Pen$ion” read the cake at Mark Luloff’s retirement reception.
Luloff has worked for the City of Independence for 40 years. He started on February 12, 1980, working for long-time Public Works Director Bud Hall and Wastewater Superintendent Ken Chudzinski as an operator at the old sewer plant located behind Vern’s True Value near the Wapsipinicon River. He retired last Friday as the Superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant and the water department.
During his time with the city, he has seen a few changes in how wastewater is handled. When he began, the old facility used a “trickling filtering” system. It was rated for about 700 to 800 gallons per day. The current plant, located at the end of 17th Street SE, was built in 1980 and put into operation January 1981. It uses an “activated sludge” system that Luloff says can handle up to 7 million gallons, but the current average flow is 1.4 to 1.7 million gallons per day.
According to Luloff, the Iowa DNR is mandating a new plant system to incorporate the latest technology for environmental safety by 2032.
“Plans are in the works,” he said.
Luloff suggests anyone interested in a career in wastewater processing or related environmental programs should look to DMACC or Kirkwood Community College. They offer several entry-level classes as well as operator upgrades and recertifications.
In retirement, Luloff plans to just take it easy.
“I’ll keep busy with jobs around the house,” he said.
The city is in the process of hiring a replacement soon.
Wastewater System Reminder
Please do not flush tissues, baby wipes, cleaning wipes, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products into your sewer/septic system. There is no such thing as a truly flushable wipe. These items will clog the system and could expose a plumber or sanitary worker to untreated waste with the COVID-19 virus.