New treatment plant now producing clean water
You may not have noticed anything different on Monday when Jamestown's new water treatment plant went into operation. The switch was flipped and the new system quietly and efficiently began meeting the island's municipal water needs.
The $3.8 million facility, constructed next to the old water treatment plant on North Main Road, has the ability to produce 500,000 gallons of clean water daily, according to Jamestown Public Works Director Steve Goslee. It took about a year and a half to build the facility.
Goslee said the old water treatment plant could only make 350,000 gallons of water per day.
"It's called ultra filtration," Goslee said Tuesday. He explained that raw, untreated water is sucked through the membrane wall of tiny tubes, filtering the water. Once the clean water is inside the tube, the water is clean, almost ready to use.
The tubes resemble hollow white plastic spaghetti and are about six feet long. There are literally thousands of these filtration tubes, which are housed in two giant blue boxes (seen in the picture above).
Goslee said the 50-foot by 80-foot water treatment building is two stories tall so that an overhead crane can be used to remove the tube array from the boxes.
The new water treatment system is state-of-the-art high tech efficiency, Goslee said. During peak use, the old water treatment system needed about 20,000 gallons of water per day to flush the sand filtration system. The new system needs only 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water per week for the flushing operation.
To flush the system, they just reverse the flow of water in the new system, he added.
Not only does the new system produce more water, it is also less expensive to operate because a lot less water is needed to back flush. That flush water also has to be treated before it is dumped into the bay, he said.
Tina St. Pierre of General Electric Water Process & Technologies, the manufacturer of the treatment system, has been in Jamestown for two months getting the plant online. She said the new system is totally automated and controlled through a touch-screen computer display.
The only time the system needs human attention is when an alarm sounds. Only one town employee is needed at the water plant for eight hours a day.
Goslee said Jamestown's peak demand is about 450,000 to 500,000 gallons of water per day on Fourth of July weekend. The new system should be able to meet that demand, he said.
The town's two water towers on Howland Avenue provide a reserve of one million gallons, thus giving at minimum a two-day cushion, Goslee said. "If we had a lightening strike or something, we'd have a couple of days to get back up and running."
The town's water chemistry will remain about the same with the new treatment facility, Goslee said. The water is treated for disinfection, corrosion and pH control, and also for color, taste and odor before filtration, he said.