Water plant now online | VailDaily.com

Water plant now online

Cliff Thompson
Red Cliff Town Administrator Bob Slagle, checks the computer read-out of the micro-filtration unit one, at the town of Red Cliff water plant Monday.

No, the town of roughly 200 residents hasn’t suddenly become a hotbed for temperance. Instead, Red Cliffians will be celebrating the fact they can drink their tap water for the first time in 14 months – without having to boil it first.

The Colorado Department of Health lifted the water boil order yesterday after the town’ new high-tech water microfiltration plant finally came online. Bringing the water plant on line has proven tough sledding.

“It’s a huge relief,” said resident Jim Bradford. “We’ve been filtering and boiling our water. It’s been a long year-plus.”

The boil order was made necessary by the discovery of giardia lamblia, a water-borne intestinal parasite that can cause diarrhea, fever and intestinal distress. The new filter plant will remove giardia and other impurities. Giardia is indigenous to many watersheds.

Getting the new water plant online and supplying water for the town had been quite frustrating, as glitches delayed the plant’s start-up:

– A month ago a power failure shut down the heating and operating systems. A water manifold cracked, either because too much pressure built up or because water in the manifold froze, cracking the pipe.

– A week later, a computer failed, taking one of the two filter banks off-line.

To meet demand, the town was forced to supplement the clean water with untreated water. The town then had to over-chlorinate the water tank and water mains and flush them, as it had done before.

– Then just last week, the town was unable to meet Health Department requirements before the weekend and had to wait until this week to have the boil order lifted.

– And Wednesday, the plant actually shut down for eight hours when what was believed to be a faulty sensor shut the system down. It was restarted that afternoon. In the interim the town’s 190,000 gallon storage tank was drawn partially down.

That’s behind Red Cliff now, however, as the plant now appears to be running and producing potable water.

“We’re very pleased with the patience of the townspeople,” said a relieved Town Administrator Bob Slagle.

Red Cliff’s boil order was one of the longest issued by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said Glen Bodnar, drinking water engineer.

“It’s nice to have this one off our list,” Bodnar said.

The town is lease-purchasing the $460,000 microfiltration system to replace its old plant that often was overwhelmed by Turkey Creek’s sediment load during spring runoff. At full capacity the twin filter banks can supply up to 250,000 gallons of pure water per day.

The new water system has created an opportunity for the town as well, said Slagle. A bottled water company from Utah has made inquiries about bottling and selling the water generated by the plant.

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