2017-05-19 / Local

Plans outlined for $8M expansion to Towanda Municipal Authority's water system


Staff Writer

TOWANDA — At the Towanda Municipal Authority’s meeting this week, engineers presented plans for a 5,900 square-foot water treatment plant, which is part of an ongoing $8 million expansion of the authority’s municipal water system.

The plant will process water from three new municipal wells, two of which have been drilled on a 23-acre parcel that the authority owns at the east end of Campbell Road in North Towanda Township, which had formerly been owned by Fred Roberts of Upper Black Eddy, Pa.

The third well was drilled on a vacant 9-acre property off Church Hill Drive in North Towanda Township, which the authority had purchased from the North Towanda Methodist Church.

The plant will be constructed in the James Street well field in North Towanda Township, where the authority has two municipal water wells, said Towanda Municipal Authority Manager Kyle V. Lane.

The authority will need to install 6,000 feet of 12-inch pipe underground to carry the water drawn from the former Roberts property to the treatment plant, said engineer Eric Casanave of Stiffler, McGraw & Associates, which was hired by the authority to work on the design for the expansion of the water system.

Also to be installed underground are 1,900 feet of 8-inch pipe that will carry the well water from the former church property to the treatment plant.

The plant will be “fairly sizable,” said Brian D. Shura, an engineer with Stiffler, McGraw & Associates.

“The building is low-cost,” Lane said. “It’s the stuff that will go in it that will be costly.”

The plant will have two membrane filtration units that will treat the water from the former Roberts property, which will constitute most of the water that comes to the plant, Shura said.

After being treated by membrane filtration, the water from the former Roberts property will be injected with chlorine to disinfect it, Shura said.

The water from the former church property will only need to undergo chlorine disinfection, he said.

After the water from the three wells is injected with chlorine, it will be sent to a tank under the building where it will have “contact time” with the chlorine in order to make it potable, Shura said.

The plant will also have an on-site laboratory with a limited amount of necessary equipment, a pump room, an electrical room, and an office, he said.

While the operations of the treatment plant will be automated, “you will need somebody there pretty much every day to check on it,” Shura told the Towanda Municipal Authority’s board of directors.

“(The plant) will be a pretty quiet place,” Shura said. “It should not generate a whole lot of noise and disruption. It’s a building in a clearing.”

The water that comes out of the plant will be potable and will be pumped into the Towanda Municipal Authority’s water system, where it will be distributed to homes and businesses and fill water storage tanks that are part of the system, Shura said.

The plant’s two membrane filtration units will each be able to treat up to 1 million gallons of water per day, Shura said. However the filtration system’s total capacity will be only 1 million gallons per day, because, in calculating the capacity, the TMA must consider that one of the filtration units might be off-line due to periodic maintenance or a break in its equipment, he said.

The plant is being designed so that in the future, an additional membrane filtration unit can be added at the plant, which will increase the capacity of its membrane filtration system to 2 million gallons of water per day, Shura said.

The additional membrane filtration unit would be added if the TMA decided to pump more water from the former Roberts property to the plant, he said.

Tests have shown that the water that will be drawn from the former Roberts property is “good, clean, quality” water, Lane has said.

However, the state is requiring that the filtration plant be built because the former Roberts property typically floods every one or two years, he has said.

The Towanda Municipal Authority had spent 15 years trying to find a property where the water would not have to be treated in a filtration plant, but was unsuccessful, Casanave said. “I don’t think anybody can say you (the Towanda Municipal Authority) didn’t do your homework,” Casanave said.

E. coli testing on the well water is also underway, officials said.

A rough estimate for the additions to the water system — the three wells, pipelines from the wells to the treatment plant, the treatment plant, and an additional water tank — is $8 million, Lane said.

A preliminary estimate for the cost of the treatment plant was $4 million.

The TMA will need to obtain a public water supply permit from the Department of Environmental Protection for the additions to its municipal water system, Shura said.

Currently a three-month pilot study is underway to determine some aspects of the treatment plant’s final design, Shura said.

The pilot study uses a small-scale, mobile filtration unit to process well water from the Roberts property, he said.

The study will determine, for example, how many membrane modules each membrane filtration unit will have, he said.

The additional wells are needed to meet the needs of the authority’s growing municipal water system, and also to serve as back-up water sources in case one of the authority’s existing water sources failed.

The Towanda Municipal Authority, which owns and operates the Towanda Water & Sewer Systems, has 2,500 water and sewer customers.

James Loewenstein can be contacted at (570) 265-2151 ext. 1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.

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