ST MARYS — A groundbreaking ceremony for the new St. Marys water treatment plant was held Friday, but construction had already begun at the juncture of county Road 66 and Koop Road two weeks earlier.
“It actually began the week before last, on that Friday when they started bringing equipment in and started putting in the drive,” said Jeff Thompson, St. Marys superintendent of water and waste water departments.
It’s estimated the new plant will cost $20 million to construct, said St. Marys Mayor Patrick McGowan, though he’s hopeful the project will be completed for less. He said this new water treatment plant is the largest capital improvement project the city of St. Marys has undertaken. The new plant, like the old, will draw water from the ancient subterranean Teays River, which runs under St. Marys.
“The Teays River is 400 feet below us, approximately,” McGowan said. “It’s almost an inexhaustible source of water.”
The new plant will be able to supply the residents of St. Marys the 1.2 to 1.5 million of gallons of water needed daily. It will be capable of pumping a total of 2.5 million gallons to hold excess water in case demand increases, McGowan said. The plant will be operated by the same number of employees as the old plant, but the new will be much more automated.
“A lot of stuff guys have to go around now and do manually, that stuff will be metered right away,” McGowan said. “They’ll have real time information as to what’s happening. We can do a leak identification, we can see machine malfunctions and all kinds of things like that. They’ll have visuals they can see.”
Thompson said the plan is for the new water treatment plant to be completed in approximately two years. Construction is starting from the ground up. New water lines and valves will be connected to the preexisting lines for the old plant. The two plants will need to run in together for a period of time after the new plant in complete to make certain it’s running correctly. Once the functionality of the new plant is proven, the old plant will be torn down.
“We did a historical study on it, and there’s no historical value, it doesn’t meet that criteria,” Thompson said.
McGowan said water from the Teays River needs very little treatment because it’s a very clean water source.
“We’re going to ensure safe, clean drinking water for all our future generations,” McGowan said. “It’s important that we understand we can’t just do it for us. We have to think of future generations.”
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.