Keeping it clean

Paul Herridge
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Marystown’s new water treatment plant as modern as they come

After years of planning, preparations and construction, clean, pristine treated water began flowing to homes and businesses in Marystown this summer.

BY PAUL HERRIDGE

The Southern Gazette

Although the old system was safe for use by Canadian guidelines and tested frequently, discolouration combined with a foul smell turned off many residents.

Stories of bed sheets and clothing turning green after washing were common.

Those days are, hopefully, gone for good, acknowledged Mayor Sam Synard, who accompanied The Southern Gazette on a tour of the facility Friday.

A few years back, after hearing and seeing enough, council made treated water its top priority and set about securing government funding to make it happen.

The result is the $12.5 million modern plant – funded municipally, federally and provincially – at Fox Hill, near Mooring Cove.

While the water has always been safe, the mayor acknowledged it’s much more so now.

“People’s expectations are very basic. They just want good, clean water to drink, to use, to play in.”

HOW IT WORKS

As first-rate as the new building looks on the outside, inside is where the magic happens, as water flows through an interdependent system of tanks, pipes, pumps, filters and other infrastructure.

As before, Marystown’s reservoir is still Clam Pond, located in the countryside behind Fox Hill.

Once water reaches the plant, it undergoes a rigourous, multi-step treatment.

Plant operator Andrew Edwards explained a coagulation stage essentially involves changing the molecular structure of the water so impurities combine together in easier-to-remove clumps called ‘flocs’.

From there, the water is strained to remove any larger debris that might have made it through, before being filtered through a ‘Pall Membrane’ system. Treated water is shot back through the membranes with compressed air to remove any remaining dirt every half hour around the clock.

If any bacteria managed to squirm through the 144 tubes, an ultraviolet system is employed as an additional barrier.

Finally, before the water is stored in a 660,000-gallon tank adjacent to the treatment plant and fed throughout the town, a small amount of chlorine is added.

STATE-OF-THE-ART

Steve Wheller of ENG Environmental Technologies designed the Marystown plant and has been contracted to provide support services until the facility is officially handed over to the town.

“People’s expectations are very basic. They just want good, clean water to drink, to use, to play in.” – Sam Synard

According to Mayor Synard, commissioning of the facility will continue for the next while, concluding at some point this fall, to ensure all bugs are ironed out.

One issue arose in August when a chlorine pump died and resulted in a boil order. The plant has a high-tech alarm system to contact Mr. Edwards via his home and cell phones, if anything goes out of whack.

At that point, however, the alarms weren’t yet set up.

Mayor Synard, who noted the new system has the ability to supply water for a town size of Marystown, recalled council ran four pilot projects – of which Mr. Wheller was part – to develop a treatment system best suited to the town.

Chlorine is made on site using a cell process (salt, power and water) to produce the liquid form of the chemical. The plant also has in-house testing equipment to monitor total organic carbon (TOC) in the water.

Mr. Wheller acknowledged the equipment is expensive, but quickly pays for itself by eliminating the need to send samples to a lab.

INCHED FORWARD

Mr. Wheller, who has been in the water and wastewater business for over two decades, called the Marystown water treatment plant the most modern in eastern Canada.

“No plant touches this – even in Nova Scotia. This is the top-of-the-line plant. This is the Cadillac.”

Mayor Synard acknowledged the process to build the facility has been a lengthy one. He said he recalled water issues coming before council back as far as 15 years ago.

“We’ve sort of inched forward with this. We didn’t rush into it, just to take something off the shelf. We really wanted to do it the right way, very scientific.

“It’s like a big science project.”

Since the water treatment plant has gone operational, he said he’s been stopped in the street a number of times by residents who are pleased with the changes they’ve seen.

“People are genuinely appreciative of having good water.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

Organizations: ENG Environmental Technologies, Cadillac

Geographic location: Marystown, Fox Hill, Eastern Canada Nova Scotia

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