GLADWIN – The $2.4 Million primarily grant-funded water treatment plant in Gladwin is going through its final verifications before it is placed online as a fully active facility.

State funding was provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and federal funding was provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) with additional funding provided by a low-interest loan from the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development according to City Administrator, Chris Shannon. 

Once online, the new facility will filter out the excess iron that is naturally present in the City of Gladwin’s water supply.

Douglas Scott, P.E. Senior Project Manager for ROWE Professional Service Company, warns people not to get rid of their household water softeners. The new treatment plant is designed to remove iron, but not soften the water.

“People will notice that their softener will use less salt since it doesn’t need to work as hard to remove the iron, but the new facility doesn’t soften the water, it’s primarily for iron removal.”

According to Scott, one of the primary reasons the city pursued the development of a new water treatment plant was the local plastics industry. Chris Shannon stated that supplying the local plastic companies with better quality water played a major role for receiving the grants from the EDA and the MEDC because it is a project that is tied to economic development and job retention. 

Better water for the residents is also a major benefit of the new treatment plant. 

“This will provide the residents with better water for laundry, bathing, drinking, etc.,” Shannon said. “When people wash their white laundry, they won’t need to worry about discolorations anymore.”  Currently, there is a potential for an orange discoloration due to the naturally occurring iron in the water according to Douglas Scott.

Scott also added that the better quality water will also reduce hydrant flushing efforts by the city since the iron will be removed at the water treatment plant instead of settling out in the water lines. 

Jeff Murphy served as the Project Administrator for ROWE and was onsite for the duration of the construction. He oversaw much of the project that was contracted to RCL Construction Company of Sanford and mentioned that the project began in April of 2019 and continued smoothly through the construction process aside from a slight delay due to equipment fabrication schedules. According to Murphy, both the filtration tank and the aerator for the plant had to be set in place with a crane before the building roof was constructed due to their size. 

The new treatment plant features a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. 

“The SCADA system is the city’s control unit that monitors all components of the water system including system pressures, pumps, alarms, and the water level in the tower,” Scott said. 

According to Douglas Scott, the SCADA system alerts the facility operators of any alarms or situations that need attention. Operators are also able to remotely monitor the facility using the SCADA system. 

While the filter system is designed for complete automation, facility operators will initially be monitoring the system during backwash cycles to ensure that the system is operating properly.

The SCADA system has the capability to show the treatment plant activity through a mobile app, which is one of the final steps in placing the system online according to Chris Shannon.

Doug Scott believes that the new plant is roughly a couple weeks away from going online. He warns that the change in water quality will be gradual. According to Chris Shannon, the water tower holds approximately 500,000 gallons of water. Once the plant goes online, the newly treated water will combine with the stored water and create a mixture that will likely last two to three months before completely supplying Gladwin with the iron free water. 

On Wednesday, March 18, the District Engineer from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great lakes, and Energy (MI-EGLE), Kristin Bailey as well as a MI-EGLE Engineering Manager conducted the final field inspection of the new facility. Once they have finished the process of approving the facility, activation of the plant will commence. Currently, during the testing process, the water that is treated by the new plant is being discharged into the sanitary sewer until the plant goes online. Once active, the newly treated water will be pumped into the water tower and, over time, distributed to the city.

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