Treatment pilot study ‘better than projected’

Wolfforth’s pilot study of an electrodialysis reversal water treatment center is going “better than projected,” the city’s engineer said.

Michael Adams, of OJD Engineering, is working on the city’s pilot study.

The pilot study is in phase one, he said, which involves getting voltages and flow rates correct. The test electrodialysis reversal unit, or EDR, arrived at the city on the back of a truck inside a 20-foot-long container in December. Inside, the EDR unit has signs printed in four languages warning of electricity, which is used to ionize the water and remove impurities.

Already, Adams said treatment with EDR has brought arsenic levels to an almost undetectable level, and fluoride levels are also acceptable.

Manganese, an impurity in the water that bothers some residents, but has not been cited as a problem by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, is also lower.

Adams said the city was concerned that it would have to pre-treat the water by running it through sand filtration or another filtering system before treating it with electrodialysis reversal.

Because only a few of the city’s water wells produce manganese, Adams said that problem has been treated just by blending all of the city water.

Residents currently get water from the well that is closest, but the city plans to tie all wells together and blend the water before sending it through the water treatment center.

Phase one has been a non-continuous test of the treatment unit, meaning the test unit hasn’t been run daily. The city is taking time to make sure the unit is working correctly before moving on, Adams said.

Both phase two and three will involve running the EDR unit for 30 days straight. The third phase will have the city testing the water at a higher flow rate.

Water will be tested daily during phase two and three to make sure it is being properly treated.

After all phases of the pilot study are complete, the city will be responsible for submitting reports to the state regarding its results. Adams said no one from the state is overseeing the pilot study locally, even though it is the first EDR unit to be used in Texas.

“We would welcome it,” he said. The city is considering holding an open house in February for interested residents, as well as other cities who are also considering EDR. He said officials from General Electric might be available at the open house to give more information.

“It’s to allow everyone in the community to come look at it,” he said.

OJD Engineering has other clients in West Texas which are “in this same boat,” Adams said. “They’re really interested in what we are doing.”

Wolfforth’s Public Works Director, Doug Hutcheson, said he is excited about the results from using the test EDR unit so far.

“My thoughts are, ‘Man, when can we built it?’” Hutcheson said. “I’m ready to see a treatment center here.”

As soon as the city can fund the project, Hutcheson said workers can begin work on the storage tanks and a building to house the EDR units from GE.

Personally, Adams said it is satisfying to see the EDR unit working so well for Wolfforth because he has been researching and working on water treatment options for the city since 2007.

“We’ve looked at every other option, and this is where we keep ending up,” he said. “Being able to see it on the ground running is a huge accomplishment for me.”

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