Newport’s fresh water treatment plant – the one that allows us to wash dishes, cloths and flush toilets – has been on the fritz for a week, at least. City Public Works Director Tim Gross and his crew have been trying to figure out why the treatment plant is not filtering enough water that goes to homes and businesses throughout the Newport area. And because of that, the city has asked everyone to not water outdoors for any reason – be it lawns, car washing or boats.
Gross and his employees have been pulling their hair out because just last week everything was working fine – this week they can’t seem to fill water tanks anywhere within the city’s water distribution system. And it also makes the fish processing plants down on the Bayfront a lot less than happy.
For some reason the water filtering system is clogging up with material that suddenly showed up a week ago which means the plant is not allowing the water through the filters and on to the distribution system that carries the water all over town.
Public Works Director Tim Gross says he and his crew have spent hours and hours trying to find out what’s clogging the filter system. Gross got on the phone to the manufacturer and it caught them by surprise as well. In fact a company engineer hopped a plane from their manufacturing plant in the mid-west and joined Gross and others trying to get to the bottom of it.
A preliminary inspection only produced an over-all puzzlement of the situation. It was suggested that the water plant’s filtration system just simply failed but the company representative said it makes no sense that the entire array of filters would fail all at the same time. It was also pointed out by Gross that efforts to clean out the filters were only marginally successful and soon the entire filtering system was nearly non-functional again.
City workers traced water intake, processing and storage, but they kept getting nowhere. And with the 4th of July weekend coming up, the city is in very shallow water. The Seal Rock Water District has graciously shared some of their water with Newport but there’s a limit because their plant can only serve their limited distribution system – so sharing, by necessity, is limited.
The company that built the filtration system quickly agreed that until they figure out what’s going wrong with the filtration system Newport should rent a couple of semis with sand water-filters in them – drive them out from Salt Lake City and hook them into the city’s water system temporarily. At least the water would start flowing fast enough to get the city back on its feet.
So that’s what the first of next week looks like. But it still remains that the original filtration system isn’t working very well. The filters still malfunction and water output is between a third and half-capacity.
But Gross and his crew will have sand-filtered water coming from the back of semi’s, along with other treatments probably by the middle of next week and hopefully they’ll figure out what’s going on with the regular filter system and what’s taking it down.
To completely swap out the water filters could cost the city upwards to $250,000. The filters are supposedly still under warranty – but probably not at full value. So they’re going to keep trying to get to the bottom of the problem.
So Mr. and Mrs. Newport, until they figure this thing out, conserve, conserve, conserve.