Water officially began flowing through West Liberty's brand new filtration system April 3, the first major success for the water reconstruction project.
Part of "Phase One" construction, the system removes iron and manganese from the city's water wells before pumping it to West Liberty's water tower.
According to Water Superintendent George Pearl, not only will this cut down on staining on home fixtures such as sinks and tubs, but clears the way for phase two construction.
The first phase will cost the city around $1.8 million in bonds over the next 19 years, and includes a complete overhaul of the water department facility as well as an iron removal filter.
Phase two will include the installation of a reverse osmosis (RO) system that will help improve the water's taste. However, steps were needed to be taken in phase one before the city could even consider installing RO.
The iron removal process is relatively simple, there are three major filter cells in the water facility, separated by stone walls. They all do the same thing.
Water flows in from above each cell and travels through several layers of rock and sand, as well as a single layer of anthracite.
Particles of iron and manganese are cut off during the filtration through the layers, also known as media. The cleaner and purer water is then pumped to West Liberty's water tower, where it sits until used by West Liberty residents.
It's the same method as pouring a cup of water over a pile of sand. Once it makes it's way through the substance the water is more pure.
The system is designed to filter 750,000 gallons of water a day; however, West Liberty only uses around 300,000 to 350,000 gallons a day. The system should last at least 20 years.
The system will require backwashing on a weekly basis and is operated by Superintendent Pearl and other city employees.
All that remains for phase one construction are changes to the facility itself, such as changing the fence location. Currently city workers are training on the iron filter system and getting used to how it works.
Second phase construction is still in planning. It will provide a secondary step in water treatment. Originally electrical dialysis reversal (EDR) was going to be implemented for the phase. However, in recent months the city has been discussing the possibility of using RO instead of EDR.
In the end, RO has become the more popular option. Both systems do relatively the same thing, but RO construction is much cheaper due to competing manufacturers.
Other future water projects include a system to add fluoride to the water. Also, the digging of a brand new well floats on the horizon. Both of West Liberty's wells have been repaired as much as they will allow.
As for right now, the city is happy to be nearly done with phase one on time. The switch from the old filter to the new one went flawlessly according to Pearl.
While a start date for phase two construction has not been set, it's expected to be completed somewhere near the end of 2015.
First filter finally finishedJacob Lane · Wednesday, April 9, 2014