Monday, January 8th, 2007
By Timothy Cox
Celina water bills expected to go up
Planning nears completion for plant improvements
  Celina city officials expect a whirlwind of activity during the next few weeks - including a water rate increase - in preparation for an upgrade to the city's water treatment system.
Engineering for a new granular activated carbon (GAC) system is being finalized and should be in the hands of city officials within a month or so. City council members then must decide how to finance the estimated $2.5 million improvement and how much to hike water rates to pay for the improvement.
The city is under Ohio EPA findings and orders to lower the levels of trihalomethanes (THM) in the water to within acceptable level. THMs form as a reaction between organic material in the water drawn from Grand Lake and chlorine added to the water during the treatment process.
The carbon pellets used in the GAC process are proven to absorb organic material from the water. A year of pilot testing locally also upheld the process as an answer to the city's long-standing water woes.
The city has until early November to have the new facilities up and and running, a deadline city officials have admitted they likely will miss. The city faces daily fines of $25,000 if the deadline is missed.
City officials have not said exactly how they will deal with missing the EPA deadline. During one past discussion on the issue, city officials suggested they would hire legal counsel to lobby the EPA for a little more time to complete the project.
Officials would like to have construction crews on the job by May, although it could be as late as June 1 before work begins, city development consultant Kent Bryan said. Construction of the new facility should take about six months, which would take the city barely past the EPA's deadline.
"We'll come very close," Bryan said.
The new GAC facility is to be built on the site of the Blue Goose, the city's former power plant. Demolition work at the Blue Goose site is wrapping up and engineers for the water issue will be in town next week to determine whether the existing concrete pad at the power plant property can be used for the GAC building, Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said.
Preliminary indications are that the foundation will be adequate to use for the water project, Hazel said.
The GAC facility will sit directly north of the city's existing water treatment plant. Water will be piped from the current plant into the new facility where it will be run through large carbon tanks to remove organic material. The water then will be piped back to the water plant, where it will be chlorinated and sent out for distribution.
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