In case you didn’t realize it, Rome’s water supply is in fact now being filtered using an ultraviolet light filtration system originally set up a few years ago.
After a rocky start in November 2016 that required extensive repairs and took the facility offline until early this summer, the city quietly returned the facility to service.
The system has been up and running since June, confirms city Public Works Commissioner Butch Conover.
In late 2016, the $6.2 million ultraviolet system was installed to satisfy federal regulations to upgrade water safety at the Frank Clark Water Filtration Plant, on Stokes-Lee Center Road in Lee that could treat up to 18 million gallons of water per day if needed for customers of Rome’s Water Supply, Conover said.
The delay in full implementation came after leaks were discovered after construction.
The issue began on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, when the new UV facility started operations.
Around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, the first leak of a type of chlorine - which was used for water disinfection — was discovered.
According to Daily Sentinel archives, two workers were hospitalized and evaluated for possible exposure to chlorine, but later released without any health concerns.
There was also no danger to users of the water system and the leaks were traced to a faulty valve, city officials said at the time.
The city’s Hazardous Materials Team cleaned up about 30 pounds of chlorine which was contained to the facility. The system was repaired and the chlorination process resumed, briefly.
However, a second leak in the same valve was discovered at about midnight on Sunday, Nov. 20, prompting another response by both Rome and Utica haz-mat teams.
The facility was once again shut down. A little more than 30 pounds of chlorine spilled in the second leak, which was once again contained within the facility.
So, work to progress the project was ultimately halted as repairs were made.
Flashing to last week, city Public Works Commissioner Butch Conover confirmed that after the leaks of gas chlorine were detected the system was shut down.
However, “on June 1 of this year, enough repairs were made that it was put back online again,” said city Department of Public Works Commissioner Butch Conover recently.
“It’s not 100%, but it’s been online since then and is running very well,” said Conover at a Dec. 30 city Board of Estimate and Contract meeting,
“There’s still some work to do,” he added. But, looking forward to 2020 some doors and locks - cosmetic fixes - are still to be replaced.
There was over $3 million in damage, and city officials have worked to address the issues, Conover said.