Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
By William Kincaid
The fix is in!
New Celina treatment facility begins pouring out water to meet EPA rules
Water from the tap should taste and smell better in Celina.
Celina's new $6 million water treatment facility that adds granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration to the city's existing treatment process is up and running. Six of the facility's eight GAC tanks are processing water with carbon, Safety Service Director Jeff Hazel said this morning.
All residents in the Celina municipal water system are receiving the treated water.
"People should notice a difference," Hazel said of the water quality.
Inside the new plant, located at the site of the former Blue Goose, six tanks each containing 40,000 pounds of carbon are absorbing the organic content in the city water drawn from Grand Lake. The two remaining tanks should be online next week, Hazel said.
The organic material in the water had been reacting with the chlorine in the water to form trihalomethanes (THMs), which lab tests have linked to some forms of cancer and other diseases. The EPA had ordered Celina to lower its level of THMs.
"We've just done some in-house testing and the results are extremely encouraging," Hazel said.
Hazel said the tests revealed that organic compounds are being absorbed by the carbon as intended.
But no official EPA testing has been done. The city is required to submit four quarterly readings.
Hazel pointed out the city's last three quarterly readings, including one from 2007 and two from 2008, will be out of compliance with EPA standards because the new GAC system wasn't online yet.
The Ohio EPA issued Celina a deadline of Sept. 30, 2009, to have the average THMs in its drinking water in accordance with state standards or face a $20,000 penalty.
Since Jan. 1, a debt assessment fee to pay for the new GAC treatment facility has been on all water bills. The monthly GAC debt retirement assessment for both city and outside the city residents is based on meter size. Those with a 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch meter pay $6.66 a month inside the city and $7.32 outside of the city. Larger meters pay a higher price, up to $93.18 a month for a 4-inch meter outside the city.
Hazel stressed that the debt assessment is a separate charge from the water rate and goes into a separate account to pay off the 20-year, $6.3 million debt to build the treatment plant.
"It does not go to anything else," he said, adding city officials didn't think it was prudent to raise water rates.
He also said the city knows the fee may be a hardship, but all citizens are shareholders. He said if additional customers purchase water, the 20-year payment period could be reduced by a few years.
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