Martins Ferry leaders give update on water plant

MARTINS FERRY — Martins Ferry Service Director Andy Sutak said progress is being made on water treatment plant upgrades.

He listed the parts and equipment that have already been installed, and said that more are on the way.

“Two of the heaters inside the plant have been installed. We’re still waiting for the dehumidifiers to come. We’re still waiting for the main heating system that will go up on the roof. … The contact tanks have been done,” he said.

Sutak said some of the parts ordered have been customized for the Martins Ferry water plant, so it could take a couple more months to get all of the parts in.

“We’re still waiting for some of the items to come in. Once they come in, then we’ll start moving on it as fast as we can to get that plant moving in the right direction,” he said.

Sutak said that he wants everything in the plant to be “brand new.”

“Everything we want to do with that plant is to make sure it is 100% redone, refitted and make sure everything is perfect going forward to give it a longer life expectancy until we do these things over again,” he said.

Sutak said that some members of city council recently toured the facility to gain a better understanding of the work that is being done. The city took out a $6 million loan to replace nearly all of the parts in the water plant.

Even though the upgrades are pricey, Sutak said the work will save the city utility costs in the long run. He said that the new equipment will work more efficiently, and he hopes to use any leftover funds to reduce utility costs even more.

“We’re still going to look for putting solar panels on that water plant to cut the cost of the utilities and to make sure we don’t have to raise rates for our citizens and residents and the people who purchase water from us. I think once we get this all done, I think everybody will see that it will keep our costs down,” he said.

Sutak also said that if the city has any leftover funds from the project or receives any grant money, he would also like to purchase a natural gas generator. He said that the plant currently uses small generators that need a lot of servicing and maintenance.

“There’s going to be phases continuing in the future that we’re going to continue to make everything 100% up to the grade where it needs to be,” he said.

According to the city’s website, “the plant was completed in 1997 and was the most advanced of its kind in the region. Drawing its water supply from an underground aquifer which flows south from northern Ohio, the plant employs a traveling bridge filter and ozonation process to provide clean, safe drinking water to 15,000 customers a day as well as to other water district systems.”

The site also states the system has over 4,000 connections including residential, commercial and industrial customers, providing more than 2 million gallons of water per day. The plant is designed to produce up to 5 million gallons per day.

Davies previously stated that workers dumped a 5-gallon bucket into the system to test its efficiency. He said that five gallons of water should have been able to pass through the system and filter in five seconds. Instead, he said it took 38 seconds for the water to pass through.

“It’s seven times slower than what it’s supposed to be. What that means to everybody, we need to pump 2 million gallons of water a day. That’s all we can pump. Our plant is designed for 5 (million),” he said. “The maximum we could do right now is 3 (million), which is OK right now, but if we lose any more production, we’re going to start starving ourselves of water.”

Among the entities that purchase water from the city is the village of Bridgeport, which also supplies the community of Brookside.

Councilman Spencer Echemann said he wanted to thank Sutak and everyone working on the upgrades at the water plant.

“From what I’ve seen, you know, this was an issue we had that I think we worked on very quickly,” he said.

Echemann said he also learned a lot from the tour and appreciates everyone working in the water department.


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