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Norfolk’s new water plant more efficient, responsive

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NORFOLK - Some residents may experience fresher, cooler and more heavily chlorinated water due to the new water treatment plant at 23 Sober St.

Equipped with new error-response and pumping technology, the new water treatment plant, which went online March 15, will be more efficient and better adapted to addressing issues that arise in the pumping and treatment of ground water, according to Stephen L. Siddon, president of Valley Water Solutions, Inc., a contractor hired to operate and maintain the water plant.

The new pumps are each capable of pumping 450 gallons of water per minute into a 19,000 gallon chlorine contact tank located below the plant building. Two additional distribution pumps, capable of pumping 500 gallons per minute, deliver drinking water to the 200,000 gallon water tank on Crabb Street and the new 350,000 gallon tank on Joy Road in Raymondville.

Mr. Siddon said the second set of distribution pumps has created a more efficient water system, able to pump water into the municipal water system at a rate of 100,000 gallons more per minute.

However, the pumps will not increase water pressure in ratepayers’ homes. Mr. Siddon said project architect Tisdel Associates, LLC, Canton, had determined it would be too expensive to attempt to increase water pressure to residents’ homes.

The pumps are located 160 feet down in the two 400-foot wells, and there is a third test pump, all of which draw from the same aquifer. For this reason, it will only be necessary to have one pump operating at most times, Mr. Siddon said.

“It’s like three straws in the same cup,” he said.

Some ratepayers located near Sober Street in the southern part of Norfolk may experience water that’s colder out of the tap and more heavily cholorinated than what they had in the past. Colder water may be noticed by residents who live on once dead-ended lines that were looped during the project and increased chlorine levels could be a result of living within close proximity of the plant.

“I’m sure they can smell it and taste it (increased chlorine levels),” Mr. Siddon said.

Mr. Siddon said ratepayers in the Sober Street area now receive water with a chlorine to water ratio of one part per million, as opposed to former levels of approximately one half-part per million. Mr. Siddon also pointed out that it is state and federal law to chlorinate water to kill pathogens in the ground.

The new water plant will also feature sensors to turn on and shut off the pumps as a way to control the water levels within the water tower, and in the event of a malfunction within the system it will send a signal to plant operations personnel.

Ms. Siddon said the former water plant featured this technology, but it was struck by lightning about a year ago, disabling the control system. The system was not prepared because town officials were already preparing to move ahead with the long-discussed, $2.55 million project for the town to meet state regulations for water quality.

The only work that remains in the project is some site work at the new water plant and the installation of a security fence around the plant. According to a town produced pamphlet, the new plant will also be guarded by 24-hour security cameras. “Since the events of September 2001, it is a federal crime to tamper with a drinking water system,” the pamphlet states.

Mr. Siddon believes the new water plant will lead to fewer malfunctions in the water pumps. “Even though there’s more equipment than in the old plant, it will be more efficient and because everything is new we’re hoping for fewer breakdowns,” Mr. Siddon said.

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