Water plant nears completion

FAIRMONT – Not long now and Fairmont will be switching over to its new water treatment plant.

Startup has begun on various equipment; vendors are training operators and maintenance staff; and testing will soon take place to make sure everything is working properly, before the water is distributed to Fairmont residents and businesses.

“For a little while we’ll be wasting that water to make sure the plant’s running right,” said Troy Nemmers, Fairmont’s public works director.

“In the next month, we’ll be able to produce drinking water,” he said.

The difference might not be immediately noticeable, though, despite the city’s investment in a granulated carbon filter system to improve the taste and smell of Fairmont water, which is drawn from Budd Lake. Though it meets regulations for safe drinking water, it doesn’t always pass the consumer test.

“We’re confident the plant’s going to produce water that doesn’t have the taste and odor issues of the previous plant,” Nemmers said.

There could be some residual effects of the old water treatment system, with the new water essentially flushing the pipes out.

“That is one concern, how much residual algae smell will still be in the pipes,” Nemmers said.

And since taste and odor are relative to each person, there’s no guarantee that everyone will embrace the water produced by the new plant. Consider, for example, the various brands of bottled water that different people prefer.

Though the plant will be operational sometime in August, there will still be further work to complete inside and outside the facility.

“Oct. 1 we’re thinking all the work will be done,” Nemmers said.

Demolition of the old plant could take place yet this fall, but the shoreland restoration necessary for the property on Budd Lake will take the project into 2014. The final completion date for contractors is July 2014.