Work begins on study of Foss plant
Preliminary work has been started by the Burns & McDonnell engineering firm to determine what needs to be done to improve the clarifier situation at the Foss Reservoir Master Conservancy District water treatment plant.
Burns & Mac is the same company that supervised nearly $30 million worth of improvements to the City of Clinton water system which are expected to be complete by the end of the summer.
The company was hired by the Foss board in April at a cost not to exceed $150,000 to guide it in making improvements to the clarifier at the Foss plant, or adding a new one to augment the present one. Shawn Dewees, the Foss plant manager, and Duane Smith, consultant, reported to the Foss board Monday evening on their first big meeting with Burns & Mac.
Dewees said the company was out for three days around May 20 and ran some jar tests on water collected from the clarifier filters. “We’re still waiting on some of the results to come back,” he said.
“We can’t tell you yet what it’s going to require or how much it’s going to cost. It’s going to require a pretty good investment from Foss. Several things need to be addressed.”
Smith said one of the things he heard at the initial meeting with the engineers was that there was a lot of sand in the filters.
“I believe it came in when the lake got so low,” said Dewees, referring to the big drought of 2011 through 2015. “It chewed up bearings and propellers,” and he said there’s been a lot of talk about how upgrades are going to be financed.
Dr. Bill Jackson, one of three Clinton representatives on the seven-member Foss board, wanted to know what laboratory was being used to do the tests. Dewees couldn’t recall on the spur of the moment but said it was “a well known lab out of Kansas.”
“Shawn, do you feel confident working with this engineering firm?” asked Dr. Jackson. “Yes,” was the answer.
“Shawn and I have been talking costs with Burns & McDonnell,” said Smith, adding that the board probably won’t want to do all the upgrades at once. “What do the rates (to the district’s member cities) need to be? We do know they’re going to go up over time. They always have, and they always will.”
The good news is that the lake is almost full, he said.
Dewees said Wednesday about an inch of rain fell at the lake overnight Tuesday.
“It’s less than half a foot below being full, which is fantastic for this time of year,” he said.
Smith said at the meeting with what Clinton has done with its big improvement program, Foss is five or six years away from being in the same position it was when the last big drought hit. “We’re in better shape than in 2010,” he said.
Asked when that drought hit, Smith said it really started big in 2011 and in 2014 it “really got ugly.” Many folks here can still remember a Saturday afternoon in May of 2015 when a one-day deluge fell, igniting an end to the drought.
Dewees was asked Wednesday morning by the Clinton Daily News if the plant needs a new clarifier or repairs to the older one.
“The clarifier needs some structural repairs, and we’re also trying to feed chemicals in a way that makes it more efficient,” he said. “We have discussed building a new clarifier and rebuilding the one we have, but we need to do preliminary work to determine which direction and how big. That’s what Burns & McDonnell has been hired to do.”
Asked how long it would take, Dewees said, “This preliminary study that they’re doing now was thought to be completed in 90 days.” That would be from the initial meeting at the plant, which he thought took place May 21.
Clinton has not used any Foss water since last fall, relying totally on Clinton Lake. And with the big improvement program, it could be years before it needs to use Foss water again. But as one of the district’s founding members, it must continue to pay its share of the district costs which is nearly half of what is spent. That’s not only to help its sister cities which rely on Foss as their primary supplier, but also as a backup for Clinton itself whose residents remember all too well the severe water rationing that was in effect when the big drought was at its peak.
When the district began operations in the 1960s, Clinton was entitled to nearly half the water produced at Foss and that’s still the case, so that’s why it’s contracted to pay nearly half the costs.