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WATER TREATMENT PLANT

Toledo's water chemical cost up by $1.7M

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Warren Henry, the new program manager for water-plant upgrades, watches as water enters the chemical feed room at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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Toledo will spend $4.7 million on chemicals to neutralize algae toxins at its Collins Park Water Treatment Plant this summer, $1.7 million more than normal.

The city usually spends about $3 million a summer on them, Andy McClure, plant manager, said at the start of a special 90-minute tour of the treatment facility the city hosted for media on Thursday.

Last summer, it spent $4 million. Plant operators then went to the city council for an additional $1 million.

The need for an additional $1.7 million this summer is another hidden cost of algae.

Area restaurants lost millions of dollars being shut down during the first weekend of August, when algae intrusion rendered the regional water system’s tap water unsafe for its 500,000 customers.

George Sarantou, Toledo finance director, has said that crisis alone cost the city more than $200,000 in overtime. The Ohio National Guard was called in to help provide clean water, and overtime was also incurred by state and federal environmental laboratories.

Also Thursday, officials announced they are pursuing an unspecified, short-term measure to help the city better cope with the 2015 algae season.

The stop-gap measure would likely be a small structure or a chemical process that could be installed quickly as an additional barrier, they said.

Warren Henry, the city’s new program manager for the water-plant improvements, said a number of options are on the table, including finer membrane filtration, but he declined to elaborate, saying it would be “speculative.”

“I’m going to tell you there are things we can do on a short-term basis to help the situation and I’ll just leave it at that,” Mr. Henry said.

Mr. McClure said it would probably be some chemical treatment or filtering technology that would augment what’s already being done at the 73-year-old water plant. It would likely be used in the final treatment stages.

A new $120,000 buoy recently deployed west of the intake — designed to relay prevailing lake conditions ashore — also will help the city be more prepared next summer, he said.

The short-term fix is to help fill a five-year time gap while the city builds a new unit capable of processing 40 million gallons of water a day, Mr. Henry said.

Engineers are still months away from selecting a new, long-term finishing technology that will be used with it, probably one which deploys ozone or granulated activated carbon. The design of that structure alone is to take about 18 months.

That expansion and newer technology will cost nearly $100 million, the largest chunk of $264 million in planned improvements.

The plant’s rated capacity is 120 million gallons a day.

Some $38 million is being spent to replace piping, some of which dates back to the plant’s 1941 opening.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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