Water Treatment Plant Continues To Progress

Pictured is an ariel view of the new water treatment plant at the intersection of state Route 66A and Koop Road just south of St. Marys. The treatment plant is expected to be completed by next summer. (Photo provided/Peterson Construction Co.)
Managing Editor

After more than half a century, St. Marys is within one year of having a new water treatment plant.

Work is almost in its first year of a roughly 22-month project at the intersection of state Route 66A and Koop Road for the new water treatment plant — a project that cost approximately $18 million.

The current water treatment plant was built around 1947-48 and doubled in size in the late 60s and early 70s.

“We are due [for a new treatment plant],” said Jeff Thompson, superintendent of water and sewer departments.

Thompson said crews ran into a couple of hiccups, including a CO2 tank for recarbonation — a process in which carbon dioxide is bubbled into the water being treated to lower the pH — and the building supplier who is supposed to supply metal for the plant is going out of business, so the city has been scrambling to find a new supplier.

Nevertheless, progress on the plant is moving right along.

Three silos will be onsight next week and a clarifier will be installed. D&T Fiberglass, Inc. will be finishing the tanks to the main building before working on the filters and other miscellaneous equipment.

The plant — roughly 4,500 to 5,000 square feet on the main floor — is where water is processed and it will also house offices and a conference room. Thompson said the second level inside the plant was just completed this week.

The clear wells are also being worked on. Thompson said the clear wells can hold 250,000 gallons of water each. The current water plant holds 750,000 gallons — which includes a clear well underground, but Thompson said per the Environmental Protection Agency, water cannot be stored underground.

“The half-million will be plenty,” he said. “You like to have some in reserve if you have a fire or a water main break, you can start the pumps right away and fill the water towers. So in total, if the water towers are full and the clear wells are full, we should have 1.75 million-gallon storage.”

Earlier this year, weather hampered some progress, especially with flooding.

“Where the plant sits, is about two feet above the 100-year flood so we won’t have any issue there, plus its another couple of feet up on the building,” Thompson said. “Where we have the flooding are the three ways into the plant — coming down Koop, 66A to the north will flood across and 66A to the south will flood. We have always been able to get down here, but you can’t take a typical car. Bigger equipment though, we don’t have a problem so we have been able to get people in and out.”

The plant broke ground Aug. 10, 2018, after construction began a few days earlier. Thompson said major completion of the plant is supposed to be done by spring 2020 and he is hoping to have the plant online by the summer. At this point, crews are a little more than halfway done, schedule-wise and Thompson estimated that construction is about 60 to 70% completed.

“Everything should be final — grading and all the bugs worked out — by fall 2020,” Thompson said. “We are going to see a lot of equipment coming in now that the building itself is done.”

Peterson Construction Co. is the main contractor for the project and Woolace Electric and D&T are the subcontractors. 

Tom’s Construction out of St. Henry has been installing water
mainline and a sewer force main on state Route 66 to feed additional water into the city, which will only make the plant more efficient. Thompson noted that with two main lines — one on state Route 66 and the other on 66A — the plant not only pumps twice as much water into the city but if maintenance is needed on one of them or a line breaks, the plant can still pump water to the city with the other line in use.

“Redundancy in this business is a good thing,” Thompson added. 

The city’s website has a live camera feed of the treatment plant, as well as a time-lapse since construction began at CityOfStMarys.Net/Water-Treatment-Plant-Project.