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Front Page » June 17, 2003 » Local News » Water Plant and Springs Tour
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Water Plant and Springs Tour

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Staff Writer

The group met for a tour of the Rilda springs.

The North Emery Water Users' Special Service District hosted a tour of the water plant and contributing springs on June 5. The water plant is located in Huntington Canyon just north of the power plant. The Plant has a half-million gallon storage tank that is 16 feet deep and is mostly underground. A sand wash, which cleans the water by filtering it through sand and gravel, is located just east of the storage tank. The sand and gravel develop a film of good bacteria, called Schmutzdecke, that destroys the bad bacteria in the water. The water taken from the wash is then cleaner than when first collected. When the sand level gets down to two feet, more sand is brought in.

In the water plant itself, there is a "chlorine room" which distributes approximately three pounds of chlorine per day into the water. It has an automatic adjuster, which currently is not working and will be eliminated and rebuilt to be hand adjusted. The room also has a ventilation fan and a leak detector. Inside the building, there are four water cells, called "clear wells." There was a problem in past winters with water freezing because the water only came in through one entrance. There are now small pipes, which circulate around the cells to keep the water moving so that no water freezes. There is also an overflow pipe in each of the cells that permits excess water to return to the river. The cells can accumulate a white film of calcium buildup from the hard water. The film is almost shell-like, and has to be skimmed off regularly so it doesn't interfere with the Schmutzdecke. The clear wells have a regulated flow and can be adjusted by hand to be higher or lower. One cell has water with a strong red tint. This is caused by high iron content.

Downstairs is where all of the pipes and meters are. The raw water comes in through a pipe into the cells. There is an adjustable meter on this pipe. The water then goes into the clear wells and back through a small pipe where chlorine is injected into the water. There are meters that measure the temperature of the water, the gallons per minute, and the turbidity, or level of dirt and particles in the water, on incoming and outgoing water. These meters are calibrated monthly.

The tour then went up to Big Bend Springs. There are approximately five springs that trickle between five and 10 gallons per minute that collect in a flat area and consolidate into about 20 to 30 gallons per minute. The district is looking at bringing the collection line down along the foot of the hill and putting in spring boxes and a gravel bed. There is still planning to do on this project and the district will need to meet with the forest service and BLM to determine right of way, and the most environmentally safe way to complete the task. The biggest obstacle will be getting the gravel across the river. They will be looking into a conveyor system to see if that will be easier on the vegetation as well as get the job done.

The tour also visited Rilda Springs. The area is fenced off, and has a lot of willows and wild rose bushes growing in it. There are perforated pipes throughout the area, and the vegetation poses a risk to those pipes. The roots of the trees can plug up the perforations. The district is working on a plan to further develop the spring area. Craig Johansen of Johansen and Tuttle Engineering said that there is an "extreme vegetation problem that needs to be controlled." He mentioned an aquatic herbicide that he had been researching that only kills "woody vegetation" such as roses, willows and cottonwoods, but leaves the grasses intact. Since the herbicide is aquatic, it breaks down in water. Johansen will be discussing the herbicide with the health department to ensure safety. The plan also has requested inspection manholes and clean-outs that will have access to perforated pipe areas. Johansen said that should the herbicide be used, they might have to take the springs out of commission for two to three weeks. The district is now prepared for such an event with the water storage tank. Johansen told the district that they need a "more aggressive maintenance program." He also stated that he thinks that the decrease of water from the spring is not entirely related to the drought and that he thinks the water is getting away from them due to maintenance problems. The district will continue to work on their plans to develop the springs and try to help decrease the water shortage, as they are able.

Water comes into the sandwash and the sand rises with the particles and flows over into the overflow tank cleaning the water in the process.

The district's monthly meeting immediately followed the tour. Johansen began by reviewing his proposed plan, graphs, charts and statistics for the projects at Big Bend and Rilda Springs. He asked the district to carefully read through the material and let him know if there were any questions or if they needed to change anything. He will be meeting with the health department and other agencies to try to further their progress.

The district then discussed the Lawrence water tank. They have decided to use a conventional sand blast tank rather than the spray-on liners. The tank needs to be painted. It has been about 18 years since it was last done. The district should have enough money from their CIB grant to take care of the tank, as well as the Big Bend and Rilda Springs projects. Johansen will obtain drawings and bids for the Big Bend Springs project for the next meeting.

The district has proposed a new resolution to charge for information provided to the public. There will be a standard fee of $2 per sheet, plus an hourly rate for office staff to research and find the information requested. The public has a right to all information except personal information, but must provide the district with 30 days to find the information requested.

In other business, a bid was awarded to Electrical Contractors to put in a fence around the pump house. There are three board members that are up for reelection this year. The district will need to send an official letter stating who is up for reelection and then the board members will need to reapply. The county commissioners will make up the application and then advertise the positions in the newspaper. Upon receiving all the applications, the district will meet and give the commissioners their recommendations and then the commissioners will choose who will be appointed. The district went over the financial report and noted that the rate increase has significantly helped reduce debt over the winter months. Water users have used approximately one million less gallons this April than last April, which means that people are conserving. The district commended the citizens for their efforts. The district will be putting a Ditch Witch up for bid. They approved all bills and last months minutes. They also donated money to the family of the late Richard Snowball.

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