For the tenth time since 2001, the City of Union Utility Department’s water treatment plant has been recognized for going beyond the requirements of the law to provide the city’s customers with clean drinking water.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has awarded the Union Water Treatment Plant the 2011 AWOP Excellence Award.
The certificate issued by DHEC states that the plant was recognized for “successfully achieving the optimization performance goals of Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP).” It further states that the plant “has achieved optimized performance level that exceeds the present regulatory requirements.”
The DHEC website states that AWOP was initiated in 1997 as “an effort to optimize the performance of existing surface water treatment facilities. The goal of the program is to optimize particle removal and disinfection at all filtration plants to maximize public health protection.”
Utility Director Joe Nichols said his department has received this award every year for the past 10 years because of its practice of doing more than required by the law to ensure its customers have the cleanest, clearest water possible. He said this goal is achieved because of the city’s reservoir which plays a crucial role in cleaning the water.
“You actually go and do more toward providing quality water to your customers than is required by DHEC regulations,” Nichols said. “We win it every year and the reason we’ve been achieving this award annually is primarily due to our 38 million gallon reservoir that allows for the sedimentation of solids. That results in a very low turbidity.
“Turbidity is a measure of water clarity, how much the materials suspended in the water decrease the passage of light through the water,” he said. “You determine this by taking a sample of water in a vial and you put it into an instrument and it measures the amount of blockage of light through the water.”
Nichols said that because of the reservoir, the turbidity level in the city’s water is lower than the minimum permitted by DHEC.
“It’s cleaner and clearer than they require it to be,” Nichols said.
Directly or indirectly, the City of Union provides water for most Union County residents.
The city currently has 6,154 water customers.
It also supplies water to the Meansville-Riley Road, Rocky Creek, Brown’s Creek and Santuc-Hebron water districts.
Through Brown’s Creek and Santuc-Hebron it also supplies water to the Town of Lockhart and the Town of Carlisle, respectively.
Even as its water plant is again being honored for providing city customers with the cleanest, clearest water possible, the utility department is in the process of improving parts of its infrastructure.
Nichols said that utility personnel and employees of Anders Inc. are performing general maintenance and upgrades to the water and sewer systems in Union.
The improvements include replacing eight 16-inch water line valves, replacing 10 fire hydrants and rehabilitating six manholes.
“The old 16-inch valves were put in during the 1960s,” Nichols said. “They were very hard to open and close. We are replacing them with butterfly valves. They are easier to maintain.
“We try to replace a certain percentage of hydrants throughout the city every year,” he said. “During the flow tests the public safety officers do twice a year they give me a list of the ones that do not operate properly.”
As for the manholes, Nichols said some are being replaced due to deterioration of their structure. Others, however, will be refurbished.
Nichols said the work began June 25 and is projected to be completed by Nov. 22.