Upgrades are taking place at Saint Joseph’s water treatment plant

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Upgrades are taking place at Saint Joseph’s water treatment plant

Luke Adent, Staff Writer

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Most of us use city water, but who really knows how the water is treated and delivered to our houses? Every day Saint Joseph’s Water Filtration Plant is capable of filtering, treating, and delivering 16 million gallons of water.

The process starts on the bottom of Lake Michigan about 4,500 feet out from shore, where there are large steel cylinders pumping in water. Here, chlorine is added to prevent the growth of Zebra Mussels, an invasive species that grows in layers, potentially clogging the pipes.

“Although chlorine functions to prevent build up of zebra mussels, it’s primary function here at the water plant is for disinfection, to kill and inactivate, disease causing organisms. We add more chlorine once the water reaches the actual plant,” Greg Alimenti, Water Plant Superintendent, said.

After the disinfection stage is done, the next step is getting the particles and disease causing organisms out of the water. This is done by adding alum. Once in water, alum forms what is call floc, a glue like substance that attracts all of the particles and organisms and draws them out of the water. The floc eventually settles to the bottom of the water with all the particles and organisms in it.

Once the water has been cleared of any harmful things, it goes through the last stage of filtration. The water is ran through a sand filter to filter out any remaining particles not drawn out from the floc. Fluoride is the final addition to the water for dental health of the customers.

Currently, the water plant is under construction with the Strategic Capital Improvement Plan. This plan is divided into three phases and has a budget of $15.7 million. Phase one is underway right now and is projected to be completed in May of 2020.

“We prioritized the needs at the water plant for the next 20 years. Then we looked at any given piece of equipment and determined the likelihood of it failing and then the consequence of it failing. Our final thing we looked at is our goals of service to our customers,” Mr. Alimenti said.

The biggest updates go into the plant’s technology. With updated equipment, the plant will be able to meet the growing needs of the community.

“Unlike many communities around the world, we, thankfully, have both a freshwater source as well as the expenses to update our water treatment facilities. In many developing countries around the world, water is not just readily availible. Many of these countries and communities within don’t have access to water, or if they do it’s dirty and often contaminated with bacteria that causes sickness or diesese. We are lucky to have both the natural resource and the money to be able to clean it of contaminants,” Leah Terry, said.

As the Saint Joseph’s water treatment foreges forward with the updating of the facility, they plan on continuing providing safe clean water to the community as it continues to grow.