By: Jill Marie Majka
When Bill Blakely, the water treatment superintendent of the Village of Montpelier, Ohio commented that the village had “pretty good tasting water,” little did he know that his opinion would be a bit of an under statement. 2007 is the third year that the village has won the gold medal for the World’s Best Municipal Drinking Water.
This award was given by the annual International Water Tasting Event in Berkeley Springs, W.V. The Village of Montpelier also won the gold medal in 2003 and 2006.
Founded in 1845 as a railroad town, the Village of Montpelier is located in Williams County in north western Ohio. Although its population is only 4,300 this prestigious award has certainly helped to put Montpelier on the proverbial map.
What inspired the village to enter the contest? “Pretty good tasting water” and a little friendly competition with a neighboring town.
B “The city of Kent, Ohio entered the Berkeley Springs Water Tasting Competition and won fifth place,” states Blakely, “We thought we had some pretty good tasting water, so we entered the contest, and out of the last seven years, we have won the gold medal three times.”
As a novelty, the Village of Montpelier has even had their water bottled and labeled.
Mr. Blakely runs a very smooth operation at the Village of Montpelier’s water treatment plant. But the plant did have challenges to overcome when it came to water disinfection equipment.
“Prior to 1994 we used a gas chlorinator brand that needed continual work on their heads,” says Blakely, “they would constantly leak or stick and need replacement components.”
“Factory repair was never offered at that company, so we would tear into the unit and order the parts needed. Sometimes the part we needed was backordered,” Blakely says, “then, when the parts did come in, we had the extra cost of labor time of having to rebuild it ourselves. So, we always had to have an extra head on the shelf.”
The village’s old water treatment plant was built in 1939 – not suited to today’s standards. So, in 2005 the village undertook the project of building a brand new water treatment facility.
“When we were looking to replace the existing gas chlorinator equipment,” Blakely states, “we inquired information from area reps and also talked with them at the state AWWA [American Water Works Association] convention. The Regal Gas Chlorinator with the automatic switchover feature and fewer moving parts really caught our eye. We’ve never regretted the change,” Blakely adds.
Although the plant switched to the Regal gas chlorinator in 1994, Blakely states, “When we built our new plant in 2005 we made sure to specify Regal. We didn’t want anyone else’s chlorinator.”
The Village of Montpelier, Ohio has never used anything other than gas chlorine for water treatment.
“I am familiar with sodium and calcium hypochlorite because I operate two other small water treatment plants – one at Lake Seneca and the other, a small housing subdivision just outside of Bryan, Ohio,” says Blakely.
Sodium was not practical for use at the Village of Montpelier due to shorter shelf life and waste of product due to degradation.
“I prefer gas over sodium or calcium hypochlorite,” Blakely states. “With gas there is no degradation. It’s contained and remains at 100% available chlorine. Calcium hypochlorite starts at 65%, and sodium hypochlorite starts at 12.5%, and then diminishes with age.”
“I also have less exposure to chlorine by using gas rather than sodium or calcium hypochlorite. I get exposed to more gas by opening a container of calcium hypochlorite than I do switching chlorine gas tanks, and I don’t ruin clothes like I do when using sodium hypochlorite,” Blakely states.
Cost concerns were another reason why the village does not use sodium.
“Sodium and calcium hypochlorite are also more expensive than gas. As far as I’m concerned, gas chlorine is the cheapest way to go,” says Blakely, “We pay 46 cents per pound for gas chlorine. Sodium hypochlorite costs around $2 per gallon, and calcium hypochlorite costs around $2.40 per pound. If you look at the cost per pound per the form of chlorine, factor in the degradation, gas is a lot cheaper.”
TO FIGURE THE COST PER POUND OF SODIUM, USE THE FORMULA BELOW.
This formula assumes that after degradation occurs, a constant 10% solution of sodium hypochlorite remains. (But, keep in mind that sodium never remains constant.)
Price per gal. of sodium X 1.2 (which equals 1 lb. of gas) = price per lb.
1.5 lbs of calcium @ 65% = 1 lb. of CL2 gas
IN THIS CUSTOMER’S EXAMPLE:
$2.00 X 1.2 = $2.40/ lb. of sodium hypochlorite In the Montpelier, Ohio area calcium hypochlorite costs around $2.40/lb.
Montpelier pays 46 cents per lb. of chlorine gas
“With the Regal Switchover unit, when one tank goes empty it automatically switches to the standby tank, and you never have a drop in chlorine. It maintains a constant feed rate,” says Blakely.
“I can be doing other things. We can get to it – change the tank – at our convenience,” according to Blakely, “This is important because we have a small staff, and we don’t have time to baby sit the chlorine tank when it is about to go empty.”
Regal flow pacing valve products have helped the village, which uses ground water, eliminate the trials and errors of the past.
“The SmartValves we installed at the new plant work super. Our system is flow proportional, so if I want to adjust the GPM from 1,400 in the summer to 1,000 in the winter, I just dial back my wells, and the Regal SmartValve will compensate automatically to achieve the same dosage,” states Blakely.
In summary, the Regal system has helped the Village of Montpelier eliminate downtime, save money, and lessen labor – all essential elements in running a smooth water treatment operation.
“In the 14 years that I’ve been with the Village, I’ve sent one chlorinator head to the Regal factory, and I got it back promptly – in 7 days,” states Blakely, “but because we were using the switchover units, we had no downtime.”
“Regal is a good fit for us. The less maintenance-intensive, the better,” says Blakely.
Author bio: Jill Marie Majka has reported for various newspapers in the U.S. She regularly contributes articles to a variety of trade magazines – including water, wastewater, and agriculture publications. She has been reporting and writing for more than 11 years.
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