Columbus to spend $23k to clear discolored water from Woods well

Published 4:33 pm Thursday, September 22, 2011

Town of Columbus officials said they have exhausted all internal options in efforts to clear up discolored water being produced from the town’s Woods well.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Sept. 15 and agreed to spend $23,250 for an iron and manganese sequestration project at the well to clear up discoloration of the water.
The work will be done by the town’s public works department. Estimates of costs for hiring a contractor to do the work were $37,500.
Residents in the Woods subdivision have been experiencing discolored water for about a year.
The water from the well has been tested as safe to drink numerous times, but reports are that the discoloration is so bad nearby residents cannot use it.
Councilman Michael Gage said one resident he’s spoken to purchases bottled water to use in the home and will not drink the water.
The town has tried numerous fixes to address the problem, including filters, but to no avail.
“After months of efforts at staff level to control this issue, we finally believe this is the only cost-effective solution left before us,” said Columbus Town Manager Jonathan Kanipe.
Council decided to approve the lower engineering estimate for the project, which will include the town crew doing the actual work. Much of the cost is associated with engineering and reporting fees, because state approval is needed for a well system project prior to construction. The state approval process will likely take three to four months, according to Kanipe. The actual work will take about a week to complete.
“I think as long as we’ve been battling this project, we should get our guys to do it,” said Gage.
Sequestering does not remove iron from the water, according to a report submitted by engineer/vice-president Brian Tripp, with WK Dickson, who will be contracted for the design and permitting of the project.
Sequestration binds the iron in soluble form, preventing the compound from oxidizing on contact with air or chlorine, said the report.
“Sequestering prevents staining of plumbing fixtures and discoloration of the water, but a slight metallic taste remains,” the report said. “Sequestering is accomplished using a phosphate chemical feed.”
Councilwoman Margaret Metcalf expressed concern over the “metallic taste” that will occur after the process.
Kanipe said the town has done everything it can at this point. If the sequestration process doesn’t work, the town will be looking at much higher-cost estimates to fix the problem, with the last resort being to drill a new well.
The well is located between Peniel and Peake streets in the Woods subdivision area. It is one of the town’s largest wells, producing an estimated 300 – 400 gallons of water per minute.
Kanipe estimated it could be next March before the project can be completed as a result of the timetable for state permitting approval.
Funding for the project will be taken from the town’s water and sewer fund contingency, which currently has approximately $61,000, according to town council reports.

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