Media
03/1/12

Held to Strict Standards

Cities have options when source water isn't perfect. Experts take on a river with a bad reputation; proving that planning for success makes all the difference

From the day the city planned to take residents off well water and build a new treatment facility to withdraw water from the Willamette River, the residents of Wilsonville, Oregon had questions. The Willamette had unfortunately developed a bad reputation from its location 30 miles from downtown Portland. Fair or not, the river was considered a dumping site and an agricultural runoff basin.

Faced with these issues, the city responded by building a top-notch water facility from 2000 to 2002, designed to handle strict source water requirements and built to manage difficult operating conditions. Wilsonville issued a RFP to operate the plant early in the design process and awarded Veolia the contract to help with startup and ongoing facility operation.

From the very beginning, city planners included very strict water quality requirements in their contract with Veolia Water - in fact they made these requirements stricter than state or EPA standards.
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This move gave Wilsonville the ability to hold a private partner accountable to higher standards of water quality than other municipalities.
The city's partnership with Veolia is legally enforceable and can be measured and monitored, giving the city increased control over the water treatment process. By contract, Veolia must exceed these state and EPA requirements for drinking water.

Further, like many facilities across the nation, Wilsonville faces increased challenges during the winter. When winter comes to Wilsonville, it brings water with turbidity and bacteria. Snowmelt and rain cause water levels to rise as they flow down the valley into the Willamette River - a process that significantly decreases the water's alkalinity.

As part of the partnership, the team implemented several practices to deal with the increased difficulties of winter. They monitor river level trends on the Internet, while watching the river's turbidity levels for advance notice of an event. When it becomes clear that river levels are rising, they closely monitor the water chemistry and make the necessary dosing changes to keepthe process optimized and in compliance.

Given the source quality, the city built the plant with optimum equipment for dealing with high turbidity. This includes a Veolia Actiflo™ unit, a very high-rate ballasted sedimentation process that can handle a wide range of raw water qualities. The technology's primary benefit in Wilsonville is its efficiency in handling the river's winter turbidity; it can bring a turbidity of 200 down to 1. The plant runs the Actiflo™ unit as part of its continuous operating process.
In the dry season, the turbidity is in the 2-5 NTU range, but it comes out of the Actiflo unit in the 0.1 - 0.2 range, which is actual drinking water quality even before the water is filtered. Even in the winter, the team is able to achieve finished water turbidities less than .06 NTU.

Training is extensive. Team members are required to stay up-to-date on the latest in water quality treatment and processes. Training for the onsite staff includes annual conferences, corporate training, seminars and short schools.

There is no question that the team planned for success and has achieved it in the past ten years. Despite the initial concerns and the strict environmental requirements that exceed state and EPA compliance metrics, the plant has operated at 100% compliance without a single violation since the day it started running.
 

Are tough-to-treat water sources a concern at your facility?A private operator can be held to tough environmental standards that exceed existing regulations. For more information, e-mail us or call at 312-552-2800.

 

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