Calera unveils new water treatment plant

Published 3:37 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

While awaiting the unveiling of the city’s new Central Water Treatment Plant, Water Board Chairman Bobby Joe Phillips said to another bystander, “You are witnessing history. This is history in the making today.”

A modest crowd gathered outside the filtration plant, located on County Road 22, to celebrate 25 years of planning among city, state and federal officials, contractors and engineers. The 6,000 square foot facility cost shy of $5 million.

“There’s nothing more modern than this in the state of Alabama,” said Ben Carr, water board engineer. “No project of this magnitude can be done without a team effort.”

What sets the plant apart from others is its state-of-the-art microfilter technology. The technology removes impurities more efficiently than today’s standard sand filters, Carr said.

The plant is capable of filtering up to 6 million gallons of water a day and can be expanded to filter up to 10 million gallons, Carr said. Calera now uses about 3 million gallons of water a day.

Attendees were led on a guided tour of the plant. The group marveled at the laboratory, where the city’s water system is controlled by an advanced computer system. The lab is equipped with a dishwasher to clean glassware used by technicians to test water hardness and alkaline and iron levels.

For city officials, the plant unveiling signifies the end of an uphill battle. In June, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management filed a water pollution lawsuit against Calera’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. The lawsuit states that the city violated its permit by discharging polluted water into Camp Branch, a tributary of the Coosa River.

In 2006, increased coliform bacteria levels and cloudy water discovered in Calera’s water supply prompted ADEM to require the city to build the plant.

“They had a lot of headaches last year,” Mayor George Roy said of the water board, “but I don’t see this problem happening again. We have plenty of clean water to service the people.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story was unclear about the ADEM lawsuit. The state department brought legal action against the Calera Waste Water Treatment Plant, not the city itself.