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City Staff Preparing Plan To Address Facility Needs At Sulphur Springs Water Treatment Plant

American Rescue Plan Act Could Help Fund Rehab Project

City employees had planned to do some maintenance work on one of the water tanks, but now are working on what is expected to be a multi-million dollar plan to address facility needs at Sulphur Springs Water Treatment Plant, according to City Manager Marc Maxwell.

Sulphur Springs Water Treatment Plant

The city allocated $360,000 in the budget t\o renovate the baffles in clearwell #1 at the water treatment plant. However, additional issues identified at the water treatment plant have city staff working on a plant rehabilitation plan to address all of deficiencies.

The city has two clearwell tanks at the plant. Clearwell #1 is a million-gallon below-grade storage tank that has the same storage as the Coleman Park water tower which was put in service in 1965. Clearwell #2 is a 2-million-gallon tank was built 15 years later. There are baffles in the tank that allow chemicals in the tank to continue to mix in order to get the pH just right before it leaves the tank.

“[Clearwell #1 hasn’t been working like it’s supposed to, although we still put out a very high quality of water. It’s something that the State of Texas has made a notation of that they wanted us to address at some point in the future. It was never an infraction or something to be written up on. It’s just an area for future considerable,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said while the money was allocated for repairs to the clearwell #1, after it was “dewatered” and cleaned up, some serious problems were discovered, “some pretty good sized cracks that leak quite a bit of water.”

“We think the tank is at the end of it’s useful life. it’s completely depleted. We think we can put a band aide on it to get us through a season, but that’s the best we can expect at this point. Are we going to want to put $360,000 in a tank that’s at the end of its useful life? So we we haven’t done anything there,” Maxwell noted.

The city manger said another area the city needs to begin considering replacing is Filter #4, which is leaking. He noted the pipe that goes through the concrete wall to the rest of the building, called a spool, has become very thin over the years.

“It’s like Wile E. Coyote trying to plug up leaks that are just erupting from a very, very thin pipe,” Maxwell said. “So we know that we are going to have to address that.”

Filters #1-3 at the water treatment plant were built original to the plant, 4-5 were added later, and #6 has been added since Maxwell has been city manager. While filters 1-3 are “doing OK now, their day is coming,” he said.

Maxwell said city officials anticipate coming to the City Council in the future for approval of a multi-million dollar water treatment plant rehabilitation plan to make needed improvements. They likely will recommend replacing Clearwell #1 with a 2-million gallon tank. The cost to pour a 1-million gallon tank is about $1 a gallon or $1 million to rebuild. The cost to do a 2-million gallon tank is expected to be about 75-cents per gallon, for an overall cost of about $1.5 million.

The cost to rehab Filter #4 is also estimated to be $1 million. Maxwell anticipates putting a “Band-Aid” on the filter to get through another season, and in the meantime, device a rehabilitation plan to present to the City Council for approval at a future meeting.

City staff are looking into potential sources to help fund such a large project project for Sulphur Springs Water Treatment Plant. One potential source is the $9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which includes funding for water and sewer infrastructure for municipalities, the only thing it appears that is not COVID-19 related that funding can be expended on.

“The Treasury is still doing the calculations to see what each city and county will receive. As of right now, their calculations show that we will receive $3,539,00 from the American Rescue Plan Act. That could come in two 50 percent payments, one being this summer sometime and then one a year later. Then we have to expend it until December 2024,” City Finance Director Lesa Smith noted.

Areas identified at Sulphur Springs Water Treatment Plant in need of significant improvements, circled above

Author: Faith Huffman

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