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New village plant means ‘brown water should start to disappear’

With village water now flowing through a new treatment plant in Yellow Springs, officials say the days of brown water periodically coming from the taps of homes and businesses are about over.

The new $7.2 million plant on Jacoby Road is nearly complete and the system was switched over from the old plant toward the end of December.

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“I expect it to come in slightly under that,” said Village Manager Patti Bates.

To fund the project, the village took out a 30-year, zero percent interest loan with the Ohio Public Works Commssion for $1.3 million and another loan to cover the rest of the cost through the Ohio Water Development Authority, Bates said. The village also received a grant from the OPWC to cover the interest on the OWDA loan, Bates added.

Water drawn up by pumps from the aquifer now flow through filters consisting partly of sand and rock to soften it and remove the main brown water culprit — manganese — before it is stored and pumped into the village’s water system.

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Brad Ault, village water and wastewater management supervisor, said the old plant has been pumping water to Yellow Springs since it was built in 1964, and it was only removing iron from the water.

“Manganese is becoming an issue with the Ohio EPA and we weren’t removing it,” Ault said. “We were pumping high manganese water to the system and that would create issues with brown water in town … that’s from the manganese getting stirred up.”

Ault said the water may taste better and will be softer, but residents who want “soft water” will still need a softener system at home, but they’ll be able to put it at a lower setting and use less salt.

“We still may see some brown water over a period of time but it’s only going to get better,” Ault said. “Now We’re going to concentrate on removing it from the pipes through flushing the hydrants. The brown water should start to disappear over time.”

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The average daily flow of water in the village is about 300,000 gallons, and the new plant has a capacity to move one million gallons.

Vince Schwartz, Project manager with Shook Construction, said design and construction took about two years.

“Overall, the project’s been good,” Schwartz said. “Last winter was great. We didn’t have a bad, cold winter like we have right now. Probably the biggest challenge was making sure we had all the permits on time when we needed them.”

This winter’s bitter cold hasn’t slowed the project’s completion yet, but there’s still some work to do.

“We still have two well pumps to replace,” Schwartz said. “If we have some really cold weather like we’ve had the past week or two, that could delay it but we’re still ahead of schedule.”

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