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Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Celina water plant expansion OK'd

Project designed for future mandates

By William Kincaid
CELINA - City officials are planning a half-million-dollar expansion of the water treatment plant to improve quality and to prepare for any future treatment standards.
City council members at Monday's regular meeting suspended the three-public-readings rule and unanimously passed as an emergency measure legislation authorizing city safety service director Tom Hitchcock to advertise, receive bids and enter into an agreement to install an advanced oxidation process using ultraviolet light.
The new equipment is estimated to cost $531,000. Funding will come from an $8 million Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water Solutions Grant awarded to the city last year.
Plant superintendent Mike Sudman said the new process would treat for "remaining disinfection byproducts prior to the chlorine being added, any kind of minute pharmaceuticals that could be remaining, algal toxins that could get through the carbon."
"Currently these are things that we're not testing for but are on the radar," Sudman said, adding the EPA will soon release a list of necessary tests.
"We're just trying to stay ahead of the curve."
The additional process should be operational by September, when lake algae begins to die, releasing toxins into the water.
"That's when it's harder for us to remove it, because now it's in the water, not contained in the algae," he said.
Officials see the additional treatment process "as one more step" to improving the city's drinking water, as well as getting "ahead of the curve," mayor Jeff Hazel said.
"We're not under findings and orders. We are in compliance with known OEPA standards right now, but they do continue to tighten that noose, if you would, on standards and drawing it down," Hazel said.
"Pharmaceuticals are not tested for in water and unfortunately we think that 'well, yeah, there's safety drop-off sites where people can take down used medicines,' but there's also the toilet bowl and so there's a lot of things that go down for wastewater-wise and that gets into all bodies of water," Hazel continued.
Councilman Mike Sovinski asked how the process will impact operational costs.
"You'll see a reduction in chlorine. Disinfection byproducts will continue to drop due to this, but no, operationally, you're going to see an increase in electric use because that's what it runs off, as well as maintenance (costs)," Sudman replied.
He did not have an estimate on operating and maintenance costs.
However, Hitchcock said he doesn't anticipate water rates will increase due to the process.
Sovinski asked if the plant had any problems last year.
Sudman replied, "We have problems every year."
"It's just another safety factor that we're looking at," he said.
Sovinski also expressed frustration about lack of notification about the additional process.
"We're getting this tonight, and we're going to have 15, 20 minutes to talk about it and that's it," he said. "I have a problem with making decisions, long-term decisions based on so little contemplation."
Sudman replied that city officials had included the process in the design for the nearly $7 million granular activated carbon filtration system added in 2008 to eliminate trihalomethanes produced when organic material in the lake water is treated with chlorine.
However, due to financial concerns, officials eliminated the advanced oxidation process, Sudman said.
"The structure's there. We just held that half a million dollars off of the GAC and now that we have the grant money, now is the time to put it in," Sudman said.
City officials must use the grant money either to relocate its water treatment facility, partner with another political subdivision to access water sources, establish pipelines to access suitable water resources or treat drinking water.
An OEPA officials has informed city officials that adding advanced oxidation falls under the allowable uses of the grant dollars, Sudman said.  Hazel did not have an exact figure on how much of the $8 million grant has been spent so far.
Earlier this year, council members set aside $1.19 million to pay safe drinking water specialists Hazen and Sawyer.
That was in addition to the $1.1 million appropriated last year for the firm's work.
The work is part of an overall study to potentially locate a new city drinking water source. It also includes ozone treatment upgrades and related engineering and design work. Hazel had said that Hazen and Sawyer employees are analyzing the plant and its functions to help plot potential action.
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