UP THE CREEK
February 1, 2005
By the time you get this newsletter, you have been drinking (or avoiding) the product of our new water treatment plant. Those of you living at the higher end of the Surface Creek valley have been exposed for a couple of weeks. It took a while for it to migrate through the pipeline system, so the south end of Redlands Mesa had a few days of grace, but it caught up with you eventually. Since we have not heard of any epidemics or mass die-offs, we presume the water is agreeing with you.
We are relieved, to say the least, that this project is finished and that the plant works. We appreciate the telephone calls, notes, and other expressions of support that many of you have given. We were reminded many times by potential financiers and regulatory authorities that it is unusual for a water system this size to undertake a project like this. We knew it was a gentle way of saying, “you must be crazy.” But, thanks to your support, the confidence of the Board of Directors, and the indulgence of some equally crazy financial institutions and regulators, the fantasy is now fact.
This is what you have purchased with your $1.3 million:
• A raw water intake on Surface Creek, with a self cleaning screen and sedimentation basin to remove trash and silt.
• A raw water pipeline, fifteen inches in diameter and 3000 feet long.
• A block building, 65 ft. by 48 ft. by 14 ft. high, enclosing the filtration equipment and providing an office/laboratory, restroom, compressor room, and chlorine room.
• A Chlorine dioxide generating system, produced by CDG Technology, Pennsylvania. Its function is to oxidize undesirable organic compounds in the raw water, preventing issues with disinfection byproducts, which is a hot regulatory item now.
• Four sand pre-filters, produced by Fresno Casting, California. These coarse filters will remove larger particles, keeping them from the membrane filters. In this way, we hope to minimize cleaning the membranes, for longer life.
• A two-unit membrane microfiltration system, produced by Pall Corporation, New York. The filters work by forcing water to pass through microscopic holes in plastic tubes, stopping all particles larger than .1 micron (one four-millionth of an inch). This eliminates single cell parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, as well as bacteria, algae cells, and some of the larger viruses.
• A chlorination system, with components from several manufacturers. It will disinfect the filtered water, and provide chlorine for chlorine dioxide generation. The chlorine room is equipped with a gas leak detector, and automatic shutoff of the chlorine supply in case of a leak. Operators can also shut off the chlorine remotely, without entering a potentially dangerous atmosphere.
• A 93,000 gallon clearwell, or chlorine contact chamber. Its job is to detain the filtered water for a certain time before releasing it to you (a state health law requirement).
• Two backwash ponds for holding and settling the materials that were removed from the water, before returning the waste water to Surface Creek.
• A finished water pipeline, twelve inches in diameter and 2600 feet long.
• A pile of bureaucratic permits, engineering reports, designs, vendor propaganda, contracts, and letters which will require another building to hold.
• And last, the peace of mind knowing that your drinking water is treated to a standard far beyond what is merely required by law.
Please let us know, pro or con, what you think of the water quality. If there is something we can do to improve it, we will give it our best. If you decide to “treat” it yourself, be careful about proportions. We had a report from one Redlands Mesa soul that ice cubes from our water spoiled the taste of vodka. If this happens, use less ice and clean your refrigerator.