When Mount Airy residents turn on a faucet, they might appreciate the clear, clean liquid that emerges without really considering the facilities and processes making this possible — which is where an important new project comes into play.
It is targeting the Spencer Water Treatment Plant on Orchard Street, one of two such facilities in the city.
The Spencer plant was constructed nearly 100 years ago — in 1924 — and still contains the original interior concrete walls of sedimentation basins installed at that time.
Those walls have been in a state of disrepair for years, according to city Public Works Director Mitch Williams.
He added that this is a concern since sedimentation basins are used to filter particulates from the raw water entering the treatment plant from Lovills Creek nearby.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners responded to that situation by voting earlier this month to award a contract for the rehabilitation of the interior concrete walls at the plant.
Two bids from qualified contractors had been received for the project, with a High Point company, Creative Resurfacing, tapped by the board.
It submitted the lowest proposal, $143,844, which was almost $50,000 less than the other bid received, $193,750 from Triangulation Inc.
In addition to the financial consideration, Creative Resurfacing has “an excellent working relationship with the city,” Williams pointed out in recommending that it get the job, based on past performance with municipal contracts.
The approval by the board includes a total project cost of $150,000 to allow for possible overruns. Funding for it was included in the budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year that began on July 1.
Work at the Spencer plant is to include pressure washing to remove old coatings, abrasive blasting to remove residual coatings and loose material, resurfacing spalled concrete and gaps with epoxy mortar, priming surfaces with epoxy and top coating with Sherwin Williams Duraplate 6000 Epoxy.
All products used in the rehabilitation will be NSF (National Sanitation Foundation)-certified for use in water-treatment facilities, Williams mentioned.
Spencer plant significant
“It is imperative that the city adequately maintains and refurbishes the Spencer Water Treatment Plant because it is used as a backup to the larger Doggett Water Treatment Plant located on Stewarts Creek,” Williams wrote in a memo outlining the need for the rehab.
In elaborating later, he added that the Spencer plant paid dividends in this regard in February through a way the public might not have known about.
“Due to the fuel tank spill at North Surry High School late last winter, we had to totally shut down the Doggett water plant until the fuel cleared from Stewarts Creek,” Williams explained.
“The city had to totally rely on the Spencer plant for about a month until the fuel cleared from Stewarts Creek.”
That facility is in pretty good shape mechanically for its age, according to the public works director, who says maintaining it as a backup plant is “extremely important.”
“However, there are some issues (sediment basin rehab, interior concrete rehab and more) that we would like to address in the next few years to bring the plant back to its original glory, thereby ensuring the plant is a reliable backup for decades to come,” Williams stated in the memo.
“The city of Mount Airy is fortunate to have two operational water plants on two different water sources.”
Both facilities were awarded by the N.C. Division of Water Resources for surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in 2021.
The Spencer Water Treatment Plant also received the same recognition for 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the Doggett plant for 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Awards are given annually to water systems around the state which demonstrate outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of drinking water quality, according to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles that can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Microbes are microscopic particles that occur naturally but possibly include harmful bacteria and viruses.
While all drinking water systems must adhere to strict state and federal standards of quality, the local plants have met performance goals that are significantly more stringent than state and federal standards, officials say.
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