Oregon water customers may notice improvements now that the city has completed its $15 million Harmful Algal Bloom infrastructure project, which will prevent toxins from getting into the water supply.
“Everything is pretty much done,” Public Service Director Paul Roman told The Press last week. “I think things worked out great. We’re in pretty good shape. We’re very well prepared for anything now.”
The ozone treatment of water promises to be very effective in treating microcystin, the toxic algae that caused a two-day tap water ban in Toledo in 2014. Ozone treatment will also improve disinfection and treatment of other organics, as well as lower disinfection byproducts from chlorination, which will have the added benefit of improving the taste of drinking water.
Though Oregon was not affected by the microcystin that shut down Toledo’s tap water, it has taken a very proactive approach to improving water quality in the last several years.
The project consists of applying ozone to settled water and modifying filters for Biologic Active Filtration (BAF). Ozone breaks up contaminants into very small particles, which are so small that the city’s filtration system was not enough to properly remove those contaminants from the water. BAF, which goes hand in hand with ozone, is the use of natural microorganisms that removes the contaminants and further oxidizes and removes material from the water.
Ozone treatment also allows lower Trihalomethanes (TMHs), a byproduct of chlorine, which is used to disinfect the water. Some studies have shown TMHs, in higher concentrations, can cause adverse health effects, including cancer.
It’s another benefit. We don’t have to use so much chlorine. We’re using less of it. We have less byproduct. We noticed those concentrations have dropped quite a bit. Another benefit is that taste and odor have improved. I think people already have noticed a difference in taste. It’s a better product. It was safe the way we treated it before, but now it’s even better.
The city received a $1.6 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to help fund the project. A zero percent loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency funded the remainder, said Roman.
“That was easily a $5 million savings in interest for the city,” he said.
The city is also considering expanding the water treatment plant to provide for future commercial and industrial development, said Roman.
“We’re looking to the future and city growth and whether we need to expand,” he said. “So we’re planning for that.”
The city is also providing a waterline connection from Toledo to Oregon for the second power plant. “If we eventually expand the water plant, then we’ll provide the water to the second power plant. It would be a big project. We’ll go after Ohio Public Works Commission funding, and other low-interest loans.”
Roman said it is hard to predict when harmful algal blooms will erupt in the lake.
“Sometimes you can physically see it in the lake and the toxins aren’t there. There are other times when you can’t see it, but the toxins are there. Nobody has a handle on it. Everyone has a theory. I believe the algae is worse when there are more rain events in the winter and spring, which removes more fertilizer from the surface of farm fields, which then goes straight into the lake. And that causes the problem. But I don’t know if it’s 100 percent true. That’s still the big debate as to what causes the elevated toxin amount in the lake,” he said.
Besides Oregon, the water treatment plant serves Genoa, parts of Northwood via the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Harbor View and portions of Jerusalem Township.
Original Article: Oregon ozone treatment ensures safe water supply