Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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Toasting Clean Water

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Mayor Tom Henry along with members of the City Council, City Utilities staff members, engineering students form Northrop High School and IPFW, project engineering and construction crews, civic leaders and Fort Wayne residents, lifted their glass in a toast to clean water this afternoon at the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant.

The celebration was to recognize the new ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system that will be used to treat the 11 billion gallons of drinking water produced at the plant each year.

“This new UV system is an investment in the future. It adds an additional layer of disinfection and will give us flexibility to meet further regulations that may come along,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “I’m particularly pleased that we were able to hire more than 20 local engineering, construction and supply companies to construct and install this $22 million investment.”

In 2006, a new drinking water regulation was introduced by the EPA called the Long Term Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule – II.

For decades, Fort Wayne City Utilities, as have many utilities across the country, safely and successfully treated the community’s drinking water with chlorine dioxide as its primary disinfectant.

As EPA data confirms, Fort Wayne has not had an issue with this current treatment technique or our drinking water. But due to the 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee that left nearly 70 dead and several hundred more ill, communities across the country, including Fort Wayne, were mandated by the EPA to implement a newer disinfection system that would destroy cryptosporidium at a higher level.

“UV is highly effective at removing microorganisms from water. This system sends high energy light rays into the water to disable and destroy the cells of microorganisms. It allows us to reduce the use of chemicals used in treatment, such as chlorine dioxide and it will increase protection and help us meet the needs of the future,” said Matthew Wirtz, Deputy Director of Engineering, Fort Wayne City Utilities.

Also, at today’s celebration, it was announced that the project won an award for efforts to construct the UV upgrades while at the same time dealing with the challenges of keeping the system operational and continuing to supply the nearly 300,000 residents that receive water from the plant each day. The award was presented at the recent conference of the Water Environment Foundation and was given by the magazine Water and Waste Digest.
The $22 million dollar investment at the plant, covered construction and installation of the UV units and their 48” pipes, additional pipes of various sizes throughout the plant, improvements to storage tanks, solar panels to reduce energy costs, a third back-up generator to ensure plant reliability, the installation of a high efficiency pump and a computerized control area.

The UV units were retro fit into an area that 80 years ago housed the first pumps to send water out of the plant to customers.

More than 20 local engineering, construction and supply companies were used during the construction phase of this project. A list of the companies is attached to this email.