After tornadoes, Dayton gets millions to address water disruptions

The Mad River flows past the city of Dayton’s Ottawa water treatment plant on the east side of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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The Mad River flows past the city of Dayton’s Ottawa water treatment plant on the east side of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Dayton city commissioners have approved accepting a $3.6 million federal grant to permanently install five new electric generators at its water treatment plants and pump stations.

Officials hope the generators will reduce the impact of any disruptions in water service during emergencies and major crises and events.

The Memorial Day 2019 tornadoes knocked out power to the water plants, leading to water outages across the city.

But the new generators will be able provide enough electricity for the plants to pump about 40 million gallons of water per day, or about two-thirds of the daily combined production, said Mike Powell, Dayton’s water director.

“The generators (that) will be purchased through this grant and will augment our plan of 'strategic’ use of power generation to minimize the likelihood or duration of water system disruptions,” he said.

After two water outages in the city in early 2019, some people, including some county leaders, urged the city to add more redundancy in the water distribution system and invest in back-up power sources.

Dayton water treatment plant on Chuck Wagner Lane. Photo by Marshall Gorby
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Dayton water treatment plant on Chuck Wagner Lane. Photo by Marshall Gorby

Dayton has taken a strategic approach to improving its system, because it would be very expensive and not environmentally friendly to invest in total stand-by power, Powell said.

The five permanent generators will be installed at the Ottawa and Miami water treatment plants, the water supply and treatment laboratory administration building and various pump stations, officials said.

Officials say they hope the permanent generators and mobile generators they purchased in recent years will lead to less water service disruption.

The city applied for and received a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

The financial assistance award is for disaster recovery projects and investments. Dayton is required to provide a 20% match ($900,000).

The grant funds are extremely helpful since they will allow the city’s water department to use its capital program funding for other projects, Powell said.

City commissioners this week also approved a more than $7 million contract with Shook Construction to upgrade its wastewater treatment plants to reduce phosphorous discharge into the river.

The project is being funded by a loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.