Thursday, November 11, 2004
Oak Creek's 60-year-old water treatment plant officially has been retired.
Starting a month ago, the town's new state-of-the-art plant was put online, bringing residents water pure enough to be bottled for the first time.
A ribbon cutting for the new plant is scheduled for today.
"It's going really great," Stan Gale said about the new plant. Gale is the plant operator.
"It's so much easier than the old technology," he said, pointing out how most everything with the plant is automated.
Gale, who retired 10 years ago but came out of retirement to work as plant operator for the town, said he never thought he'd be in charge of a plant that's at the edge of technology.
The technology is a type of microfiltration, in which impurities are filtered out of water when it passes through a series of slim "straws" made of a strong membrane. Hundreds of thousands of straws form a bundle to filter hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each day.
Since the 1940s, the town has relied on sand filter technology. With that plant, raw water is first combined with a chemical that makes some contaminants stick together so they can be removed. Then the water is moved through sand filters, which trap smaller particles. Finally, it's treated with chlorine to kill bacteria.
There are only a few other plants of this type in the world, Oak Creek Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said.
"That puts us in the elite," she said.
The town funded the project with a $980,000 loan from the Colorado Drinking Water Revolving Fund, as well as with a $300,000 grant from the Colorado Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance fund. The town also planned to pay $250,000 from its capital expenditures.
The new plant could save the town money by preventing loss of treated water and reducing the work force and chemicals needed, officials have said. Plus, it should keep the town in compliance with current and future water quality regulations.
"Compared to our old treatment plant, I'm just dumbfounded," Rodeman said. "It's so amazing to watch."
Gale said he thinks the new water tastes better, or at least is more neutral. He has talked to many residents who have always opted for bottled water and is recommending they try the town's new water.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new water treatment plant is at 1 p.m. today at the plant.
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