Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2012

City may expedite plans for water

Process would ‘zap’ algae to fix taste, odor

June 19, 2012


Zap the algae, and do it “sooner rather than later.”

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday directed staff members to research ways to speed up long-range plans to change how the city treats its drinking water to deal with a taste and odor problem that has been widespread for more than a week.

“The customers are not happy,” said City Commissioner Mike Dever.

Officials with the city’s Utility Department said there is a solution in the works that would use “advanced oxidation” to combat taste and odor issues that are being caused by a by-product of algae. But the city’s proposed water master plan doesn’t anticipate having those processes in place until 2021.

“I think we want to see that happen sooner rather than later,” said Mayor Bob Schumm. “We’re seeing this problem come every year now. I have to think we’re going to continue to see it every year, and we have to address it.”

Commissioners were told the new process essentially would produce ozone from liquid oxygen but would require new buildings and a significant amount of power to run the process. The ozone essentially creates oxidation, which will eliminate algae and algae by-products from the water.

“It zaps the water and makes it taste better,” Dever said in an effort to provide a less scientific explanation to commissioners.

Now the question will be whether it will zap the pocketbooks of ratepayers. The master plan estimates it would cost about $18 million to add the oxidation process to the city’s two water treatment plants.

The master plan currently is recommending a 4 percent increase in water rates. But the 4 percent increase does not include any funding for the new treatment process.

City officials said it was too soon to say whether the new treatment process would require a larger rate increase. It could be that some projects that are in the current rate plan could be delayed and replaced with the water treatment process improvements.

Currently, the city uses carbon powder to treat the water, but it hasn’t been very effective in controlling taste and odor issues related to the most recent geosmin outbreak.

Geosmin, a by-product of dead algae, doesn’t pose a health risk to humans or pets, but city officials concede the taste and odor are unpleasant.

Dave Wagner, director of utilities for the city, said his department hopes to have a new report back in a week that gives the department some idea of how much longer the geosmin outbreak may last. Wagner said the best bet for ending the outbreak is a good rain storm that brings new water into Clinton Lake.

“This event is probably four times stronger than we’ve ever experienced before,” Wagner said.


labmonkey 5 years, 10 months ago

A much cheaper solution would be to bleach the water with with 12% sodium hypochlorate and put in some bigger carbon purifiers to get rid of the bleach (perhaps have enough to have one on standby since bleach will use up the carbon much quicker and the carbon will have to be replaced more often). All this should be able to be done for $500K-$1million.

labratt 5 years, 10 months ago

The water is already treated with 12% sodium hypochlorate. The problem is that the sodium hypochlorate will cause the algae cells to lyse, which releases the geosmin. It is a fine balancing act. The water needs to be dissinfected enough to purify, but not so much that it causes the cells to lyse.

Also, carbon can only do so much to remove the taste/smell. If you see how the lake smells, and compare that to how the tap water smells, you will notice a HUGH difference.

icdedpeeple 5 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps it's time to end the Dave Wagner experement. This issue should have been anticipated with appropriate contingency plans in place other than waiting for it to rain. Wagner has been at the helm 4 times longer than Lawrence citizens can tolerate.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 10 months ago

Those that do not like the taste can purchase bottled water or install carbon filters in their house.

somedude20 5 years, 10 months ago

Um no. We are paying for that product. If the product is deficient, you fix it.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, the product is still potable and very much useable. Two percent residual chlorine will kill anything in that water that is not healthy, especially in a closed system. The water is fine and meets the NWQI (National Water Quality Institute) guidelines.

No reason to pick a fight with you, but the water is fine just has a little odor from decaying organic matter. This odor as well as any residual chlorine can be removed at the point of use by using a carbon filter. Carbon filters are very cheap and can be easily installed under your sink or where ever your point of use for drinking water is.

I have owned water treatment equipment for years, sold it, serviced it and rented it. If anyone wants to worry about the water, decaying organic matter is the least of your worries.

somedude20 5 years, 10 months ago

You have points but it comes down to this; if you are paying a premium for a product that is deficient, you don't go and pay again to have the product be the way it should have been. You order a steak well done and it comes to you rare, you send it back to be fixed the way it should have don't pay for the steak and then buy a pizza because the steak was bad (and the city wants to raise rates hiss)

P Allen Macfarlane 5 years, 10 months ago

What does this have to do with the article on the city's water supply treatment problem?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

"to deal with a taste and odor problem that has been widespread for more than a week. "

Way more than only a week...... can we say months at least? Yes we can.

Lawrence,Kansas... home to a never ending tax dollar money hole and stinky water. The more Lawrence expands the larger the tax dollar money hole. Why?

The community has never stopped expanding long enough to catch up with the ever expanding cost of paying for the helter skelter growth decisions. In other words Lawrence has never been in a position where new growth is paying for itself. Unfriendly to business and homeowners. All we hear is increasing taxes more and more to pay for mismanagement.

Stop expanding and take care of taxpayer assets = stop the neglect!

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 10 months ago

Crikey. $18 mill would pay for a lot of household filters, or free bottled water.

EAStevens 5 years, 10 months ago

How curious that we are still struggling with this kind of problem, even after a century or more. In today's paper, coincidentally, there's a similar story:

100 years ago: Water company urges boiling of water until algae clears

From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for June 20, 1912:

"'We have been having a hard fight to keep down algae and to keep the water clear; the trouble has been aggravated by extensions and changes in the system in various parts of town which has caused the black deposits to become detached from the pipes in some instances making the water almost black. We advise our customers to boil water used for drinking purposes until further notice is given.' The above statement was given to the Journal-World this morning by Frank Sauer, manager of the Lawrence Water Company.... For some reason the Water Company has had a harder fight than usual at keeping down the algae, the microscopic plant life which colors the water green."

NutsForKU 5 years, 10 months ago

This is a minor problem compared to the larger one when Clinton silts in and the pro growth agenda of the chamber runs into the reality of dwindling resources. Water will cost more in the future, much more.

homechanger 5 years, 10 months ago

18 million for drinkable water? Is it to late to cancel the library?

JackMcKee 5 years, 10 months ago

I'd rather have decent tasting water than a parking garage.,

NutsForKU 5 years, 10 months ago

Speaking of parking garages, has anyone seen the plans yet for the redesigned garage or will it pop up on the landscape one day like the cell towers on the Oread?

riverdrifter 5 years, 10 months ago

Time for Baldwin City to once again set up its own water processing plant and tap back into the Tonganoxie Sand formation just to the south of the city. Up a bunch of Kansas river/Clinton lake swill. This would be money well spent by BC, methinks.

ICDeadAlfredENeumans 5 years, 10 months ago

I think "The Dave Wagner ExperEment" should play on. Maybe we can hear some Free Bird man!

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