PIQUA — At a special ceremony held Thursday evening, the city of Piqua celebrated “the best water in Ohio.”
The city held a dedication ceremony and open house for the new Water Treatment Plant on Thursday evening, reaching the finish line after a decade of research, planning, and work to get to this point.
“We now are the shining star of water treatment plants here in this part of our state,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said. “We have the best water in Ohio.”
The city of Piqua began using the new plant on June 1 at midnight. The city did not have plans to begin using the new plant until July, but with it already being constructed, the city was able to avoid a possible catastrophe over a summer holiday.
“Over Memorial Day weekend, we had a complete failure of the old system,” City Manager Gary Huff said.
Huff explained that the city had already been testing and using water from the new plant in May, so the city was able to fall back on the new plant. With that, the old plant — built in 1925 — was decommissioned after almost a century of use.
“This is by far the largest project that the city of Piqua has ever undertaken,” Huff said.
Peterson Construction built the new plant at a cost of approximately $36 million with most of it being funded through an Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) loan.
The new plant includes new technology that will assist in removing organic material from the water to fend off disinfectant byproducts. This new technology includes granular activated carbon filters, which will also be the best available technology to remove organic material, including any cyanotoxins, which are toxins released when harmful algae or a harmful algal bloom dies.
The new plant has also eliminated chlorine gas usage for disinfection. This process has become much safer by using liquid sodium hypochlorite as a disinfectant instead. The new plant utilizes the same basic treatment process of lime softening with gravity sand filtration.
“This has been a long time coming for our city,” Hinds said. “As I think about water, we have heard a lot about water in the news lately and how important it is. Obviously we have heard about our friends north of us in Flint, Mich., a few years ago and we think about our friends in Puerto Rico right now who are struggling for clean water. So I felt we need to mention that and maybe just think about them in the midst of the clean water here in our community — that we do have people around country and world that do struggle for clean water.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our city right now.”
Questions about what to do with the aging water plant were being discussed back in 2006 when the Environmental Protection Agency conducted a study to determine that the old plant would not be able to meet regulations due to its age and condition.
“They came back and said that we were better to put the 1925 water plant to bed,” Utilities Director Dave Burtner said.
The decision to build a new plant was made in 2012 after the city decided against connecting with the city of Troy’s water system. Due to reasons such as the cost of connecting with Troy and the fact Piqua would not have full ownership, the Piqua City Commission at that time voted in favor of constructing a new water plant.
In addition to the approximate $36 million cost to construct the plant, the city also spent approximately $2.4 million for CDM Smith to design the plant and approximately $4.1 million for CDM Smith to oversee the construction of the plant.
The designs for the plant were completed in 2013 and 2014, and then the groundbreaking ceremony for the new plant was held in January 2015. Burtner joked about how the city hauled in dirt to the construction site and kept it warm so that the officials would be able to get their shovels through some dirt as the actual ground was frozen at the time.
Numerous other city officials attended and were recognized at the dedication and open house held Thursday evening, including City Engineer Amy Havenar, Water Plant Superintendent Don Freisthler, Assistant Water Plant Superintendent Bob Jennings, City Attorney Stacy Wall, Finance Director Cynthia Holtzapple, and a number of the Water Treatment Plant employees.
“These guys worked diligently to keep the old plant working,” Freisthler said about his employees.
Hinds also commended the city employees, saying this new plant was an example of how the city has “the best employees.”
Former mayor Lucy Fess was also in attendance along with representatives from CDM Smith and Peterson Construction.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336