Officials to watch chemical levels in reservoir

SALEM- The Utilities Commission Tuesday agreed to monitor the chemical levels in the Stewart Road water reservoir instead of installing equipment to circulate the water.

Superintendent of Utilities Don Weingart suggested the commission approve a project to install valves in the reservoir that would draw the water into the mid-section and then wait to see if the circulation improves. He estimated the project would improve circulation by 40 or 50 percent. If the circulation does not improve, he said a second phase would include installation of a distribution system in the reservoir.

Cost of the first phase, which Weingart wanted to pursue, is estimated at $104,400.

The commission noted that the chemical levels, which can cause federal and state violations, are at the highest in August and September and that the first phase of the project will not be completed until after that time, so it makes sense to wait to evaluate the success of other corrective measures being employed by the water department, such as altering the water levels.

The 3 million-gallon reservoir was built in 1946 and was designed to draw water from area wells, not the wastewater treatment plant, thus causing poor circulation and increasing the likelihood of chemical formations, according to Weingart’s report.

In other business, the commission approved up to $10,000 for Underground Utilities Service to perform a water leak survey. Weingart said the annual flushing of hydrants showed a need for the survey. The last one was conducted in 2011 at a cost of $9,800 and revealed five leaks.

Weingart said the department has handled 30 breaks so far this year. There can be up to 80 breaks some years, he said.

The commission also approved $12,000 for Ohio Drilling to drill a test well at Cold Run Creek approximately 330 to 480 feet north of the Cold Run Creek raw water pumping station to determine the possibility of a production well.

Also at the meeting the commission tabled discussion of financing the tie-in of Calvary Baptist Church to the new sanitary sewer on Depot Road. Weingart said the church had been told by the county engineer’s office that the county could not assess the cost of the project since the church is a tax-exempt organization and does not pay property taxes. Weingart suggested financing the project direct and collecting the debt through the Salem Utilities billing system on a monthly basis.

In response to Weingart’s indication that the county should be able to assess the project, the commission asked him to contact the county engineer’s office before considering financing the project.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Aug .13 in the Utilities Office conference room.