Suffolk gets clean water award

Published 9:22 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The water that leaves Suffolk’s newest water treatment plant is so clean that it has won a state award.

The G. Robert House Jr. Water Treatment Facility in Chuckatuck received a silver award in the Virginia Department of Health’s Excellence in Granular Media Water Treatment Plant Performance Awards, state officials announced last week.

The awards were presented to 79 of 131 Virginia treatment plants that use materials like sand and activated carbon to filter impurities from public drinking supplies.

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Suffolk’s award was a result of the House-treated water exceeding state and national standards for filtration and clarity.

This is the first time the House facility has been honored, said Charles Rest, a district engineer and chairman of the waterworks recognition committee with the Virginia Department of Health. The awards have been given since 2005.

“We’ve been encouraging our water plants to produce better quality water,” Rest said. “We’ve had an increase in the plants that qualify every year. Unfortunately, they’re mostly little plants. The big plants find it harder to meet the goals.”

Plants receiving the awards produce water that is at least three times cleaner than required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bronze award winners meet or exceed a minimum standard for filtration, at every filter, during each month of the year. The filtered water is tested every 15 minutes.

Silver award winners meet the filtration standard, in addition to either a standard for water clarity or a standard for filter cleaning. Gold award winners meet all three standards.

According to Rest, the Suffolk plant had optimized its filtration process by cleaning its filters more frequently than required. In addition, the clarification process had been enhanced to remove more dirt from the water before it gets to the filters.

“By getting the dirt out before it gets to the filters, it makes it a whole lot easier,” Rest said.

The clarification process is done either by changing the chemistry of the water so the dirt particles will clump together, or by adding a substance to the water that gathers the particles.

“They’re getting the small particles to clump together so that they’ll fall out in the sedimentation process and not get to the filter,” Rest said.

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