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It’s a testament to modern treatment methods that murky lake water can be transformed into the clean, clear water we see streaming out of our household taps. With these advances, lakes are often where many towns across the country directly source water for their community’s needs. The City of Creston in southern Iowa falls neatly into this category.

view of lake through trees

This 635-acre lake is just four miles east of Creston and serves as the city’s primary water source.

Originally built in the mid-’80s, the Twelve Mile Water Treatment Plant is owned and operated by the City of Creston Waterworks. This facility pulls raw water from Twelve Mile Lake to filter, clean, and produce a product that is ready for community use. After 34 years of continuous service, a condition assessment was needed to determine if the facility was operating at peak performance. The professionals at Snyder & Associates were hired to complete the task.

With a long history of providing services for Creston, our team understands the unique goals of the community and kept those in mind while evaluating their current water system. This initial appraisal outlined overall areas requiring improvements while also highlighting significant maintenance needs. From that information, our team created a comprehensive report compiling our findings, suggestions for mitigation, and the estimated cost of a new or reconfigured treatment facility. Used as a guidance document, this extensive report provides a detailed review of the majority of components in the treatment process, from the raw water intake to the distribution services.

Facility Condition Assessment Findings Lead to Clear Path of Action

The current treatment plant uses a variety of clarifying and sanitation systems to treat and process the water. Through these steps, the lake water is met with multiple rounds of screening and chemical filtration processes, separating unwanted materials and dissolved solids. Chlorine is then added and the mixture sits, allowing time for the breakdown of viruses and bacteria that were not removed through previous processes.

After completing a thorough inspection, Snyder & Associate professionals determined the filtration process to be functioning efficiently. This was due in large part to regular maintenance and upkeep by plant staff. However, the raw water intake pump station (an original feature of the facility) was highlighted as an area needing significant improvements.

Recommended Renovations for a Productive and Efficient Water Treatment Facility

As a vital piece in the treatment process, the raw water intake pump station was no longer running at optimal capacity. The pumps housed in this facility are sophisticated machines that are capable of pulling raw water from various lake elevations and depths. Depending on factors like water quality, temperature, and water chemistry, operators select which elevation provides the most desirable raw water for intake on a day-to-day basis. To get these pumps running at peak performance, our experts consulted with facility staff before recommending a variety of potential renovations, including new motors and electrical systems, and updates to the piping system and pump units.

VFD (variable frequency motors) were added to the pump station, allowing more precise control and increased energy efficiency.

The use of Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) motors in the pumping station was viewed as an energy-efficient and sustainable option. VFD motors limit excessive energy usage in the pump stations by fluctuating the supplied frequency depending on demand. This update generates a precisely tuned output from the plant, decreases operating costs for the city’s waterworks department.

Throughout the report, additional recommendations for the rest of the plant were presented, as well. These included structural repairs, upgrades to the emergency power system, significant improvements to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, and heating, ventilation, & air conditioning (HVAC) improvements.

Taking the Extra Step: Becoming Proactive and Sustainable in Water Treatment

Snyder & Associates strives to take a forward-thinking approach to every project we encounter. We not only look at current problems facing our clients but also consider potential issues that may occur in the coming years.

With this mindset, processes to address algae and microcystin concerns were developed during our review. These recommendations paid special attention to the impact these organisms could have on the facility and offered solutions to reduce their presence. Plant operators need to consider both algal and microcystin blooms as they have the potential to alter organics, taste, and odor in both source water and finished water. Our team recommended Reverse Osmosis (RO) and ozonation processes as possible mitigation options for the city to consider.

Moving Forward with Water Treatment Facility Renovations

Working side by side with community leaders, the Snyder & Associates team helped provide documentation for a strategized financial plan which aids in completing the recommended water treatment facility renovations and repairs. Our assistance included providing technical background and precise credentials for funding sources such as State Revolving Funds (SRF) and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), along with applying for funding and allocating money to the most beneficial and cost-effective aspects of the project.

A final version of the report was submitted to the City of Creston Waterworks and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their review. Pending approvals and the acceptance of funding applications, design stages are set to begin in 2020 and construction following in 2021. With this assessment and comprehensive report, the City of Creston Waterworks now has a series of recommendations to follow throughout the project. This will assist city leaders in creating a seamless transition through the upgrade process on the road to an upgraded and proficient water treatment facility.