Update on Water Emergency July 2 at 6:00 pm
Tim Gross, Steve Stewart and Public Works Crews and various consultants are working on addressing production problems at the water filtration plant caused by the plugging of the Micro Filtration Modules. This is a summary of where we are at with the emergency:
First of all, some better news. We are catching up with storage of drinking water heading into the Fourth of July weekend for a variety a reasons as outlined below. We have notified Pacific Seafood and Bornstein’s that they may resume limited production at the fish plants effective immediately. We do not have enough water to run the surimi plant at this time. We will update this report at the end of the day on Saturday. We will be evaluate the impact of these operations on our water storage. If this causes problems with our water storage, we will ask that this activity be curtailed.
An Emergency Declaration is in effect until July 20. The City has been working with HDR and Pall Company to identify why the filters are getting plugged. Pall Company has been onsite working with our crews to identify what is causing the filters to continually plug up. It’s substantially reducing production of water. Meanwhile worker have used a number of deep cleaning methods to clean this filters. The cause could be chemical, biological and/or mechanical. While a number of methods have been used and temporary clearing of the filter modules has been achieved at various levels, the filters are plugging up shortly after operations resume. A variety of production changes have been implemented trying through the process of elimination to determine what is, or is not causing these problems. A Micro Filtration Module has been shipped to Pall Company in New York to do a complete analysis (chemical and mechanical) of this module in their lab on Monday. Some better news is that yesterday afternoon, Pall tried a different cleaning process of the filters. This process only lasted 3 hours and we have had good success cleaning one of the filter banks. We have repeated this process with the other filters with the same results. While they are still plugging up after a few hours of the cleaning, this quicker cleaning process is allow us to substantially increase water production over what we have been able to produce over the last week. In the meantime please restrict your water use.
We continue to receive treated water from Seal Rock Water District through the intertie that was installed four years ago. This was really critical for us particularly over last weekend and earlier this week and we appreciate the efforts of Seal Rock Water District and the City of Toledo for their efforts at supplement our water production. We plan on continuing this effort through the weekend.
Industrial Water customers have stopped using water for production. Pacific Seafood, Bornstein’s and Rogue accounts for nearly half of our water production during the Pacific Whiting processing. This stoppage allowed us to recover water in storage. We have met /or talked with each of these major water users and greatly appreciate their cooperation with these efforts. The shutdown does have significant impacts to their operations and to the commercial fishermen. We have also discussed these issues with the Mid-water Trawlers Association as well. By resuming limited operations, we will reduce some of the impact that the water production limitations has had on this our seafood sector.
The City has ordered two semi-trailer sand filtration modular units that are coming from Texas and Missouri. The units are expected to arrive on Saturday with the first unit arriving at 10:00a.m. and the second unit arriving at 4:00 p.m.. In order to connect these units into the water plant, separate intakes have been designed and are now being built to get raw water from the lower reservoir to the modular water filtration units. This work has been contracted with Emery and Sons and is underway. A new electrical service to power the modular units has been built and connected to the power grid by the PUD. The water treated through these modular units will then flow through the water plant’s charcoal filtration system (separate from the micro filtration modules) and chlorination system. The goal is to have this system connected to our system and tested over the weekend with the hope that these units are operational by Monday if everything goes as planned.
The City has received new Micro Filtration Modules from Pall Company to replace existing modules. Those modules arrived today. Since we have to take part of the plant down to install these modules, we are not proceeding with their replacement until the modular filtration units are operational. Also, we are concerned that the problem of plugging the existing filters may occur with the new filters as well. Until we know why this happening we will make a decision as to when we will install these units. We are looking forward to the lab analysis that will begin on Monday by Pall Company in New York. Pall has indicated that they could have results as early as Tuesday from their testing and analysis.
Overall, we have been able to make significant headway on increasing water storage over the past few days. Short of a major water main break or a major fire, We are feeling more optimistic that we will have sufficient water for this coming weekend to allow limited seafood production with conservation efforts.
Finally, all water that we are producing has been and will continue to meet our permit requirements for providing safe drinking water to the customers of this community. This is a standard that we will continue to meet.
I greatly appreciate the efforts of Tim Gross, Steve Stewart and the water plant crews for their time and dedication in working through this very difficult situation. They have put in many hours around the clock to keep providing safe drinking water to the community despite very difficult circumstances. The Public Works crews have been busy working with Emery and Sons to make the necessary preparations for the modular sand filters. They will be working on Friday and Saturday to connect these systems to the water plant. Also, thank you to Peggy Hawker for serving as Acting City Manager during last week. Peggy spent a good chunk of her weekend dealing with this emergency. Finally, we are grateful for the cooperation that we received from those impacted directly by the water production issues with the water treatment plant. We have had good support from all of our partners to address this emergency.
Spencer R. Nebel, City Manager, City of Newport, 541-574-0601