Vandalia Leader

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Water Plant conversion shows progress

Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 2:09 am

The City of Vandalia is progressing toward the completion of steps to help control clean drinking water violations.
Vandalia officials have been converting the water works facility to reduce the amount of disinfectant used to treat the municipal water supply. The latest water quality report, among previous water quality reports, showed the municipal water supply in violation of federal maximum containment levels (MCLs) of total trihalomethane (TTHM). Vandalia’s municipal water supply has levels of TTHM averaging at 125.89 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the federally accepted safe level of 80 ppm.
At the City of Vandalia’s City Council meeting on September 11, Chief Water Plant Operator Darren Berry said updates on the project include:
• The purchase of new chlorine feeding equipment, which disinfects water
• The purchase of new carbon feeding equipment, which helps remove off tastes and smells
• The near completion of framework to support water basin covers at the water works facility, which help keep organic debris such as leaves out that fuel algal growth
• The scheduled cleaning of the water basins at the water works facility
He said Earthtech, a copper-based algecide/bactericide, is now being fed at the raw water intake at Vandalia Lake, the City of Vandalia’s municipal water supply. Berry said of every 250, 000 gallons of raw water from the lake, about one-half gallon of the algecide is used.
Berry said the overall goal is to reduce the amount of disinfectant used to treat Vandalia’s municipal water supply, so TTHM levels will meet federal standards.
“I really like the results I’m seeing,” Berry said. “We used to be down about it, but now we’re feeling positive.”
He said the disinfectant levels don’t exceed federally accepted safe levels all year. During winter  months, algae is less active and doesn’t require the amount of treatment as needed during the spring and summer months.
He said previous MCL violations with total haloacetic acid (HAA5) contamination, which stems from woody growth at the city’s raw water supply, have been under control for some time. He said he hopes the same will be true with TTHM levels once the water-plant conversion is complete. Otherwise, Berry said more costly additions will be needed to keep safe drinking water violations in check.
“The project is moving along, much more slowly than we had originally anticipated, but also much less expensively than what we originally we anticipated,” City Administrator Alan Winders said.
Drinking two liters of water with disinfectant levels greater than federally accepted safe levels for a period of 70 years may increase health problems pertaining to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system, or increase the risk of cancer.
Persons with current health concerns are advised to speak with their doctor.
MIRMA Funding
Assistant City Administrator Debbie Hopke said funding requests have been submitted to MIRMA, Vandalia’s liability and property insurance provider, for a taser and taser camera, a dash-mounted audio/video police camera, and an AED.
Up to 75 percent of the cost for these items is available from MIRMA. The total cost equals $8,984.65, with the City of Vandalia being responsible for $2,246.66.
A total of $5,582.91 was received last year for two tasers and taser cams, and protective matting for the diving boards at the public pool. If received, the award will be presented during  a city council meeting prior to January 1, 2013.
Emergency Notification
The board received an update on the new emergency notification system.
Steve Shaw, Audrain County emergency management director, said residents and businesses listed in the white and yellow pages already have been listed in the notification system but will only receive notifications regarding severe weather. Shaw said residents must opt-in for other types of notifications, such as road closures, boil alerts, or prison escapes.
Shaw said the new system trims about 15 minutes off the time it took to previously issue severe weather alerts, as a direct “bridge” has been formed from the National Weather Service (NWS) to the notification system, which is a first for a notification system. Though, an alert from NWS is not needed to issue an alert. Certain Vandalia officials can issue emergency alerts as needed.
The new system removes the all-county notification system and only sends alerts to areas affected with a particular issue.
He said land lines, emails, cell phones, and fax machines can be reached in the case of a power outage. Residents and businesses can personalize how they reach notifications from the system for each device.
The enrollment form for opting into the emergency notification system allows for the prioritization of emergency care for those with disabilities, so persons needing special attention can be addressed appropriately.
The system also allows for a messaging system within city departments and organizations.
Online enrollment forms for opting into the system are available at the City of Vandalia’s website, the Audrain County website, and through paper forms found at city hall and other locations in Vandalia.
Trails Grant
The city council declined the grant funding to build a new trails system.
A grant in the amount of $150,000 to build a trail to the Van-Far School District was available. The City of Vandalia’s match to the grant was “in kind,” meaning a city crew, outside of engineering, would complete the work.
Van-Far declined an easement to complete the trail, which effectively stopped the project. Work on a second portion of the trail south to the fair grounds commenced after Van-Far’s decline. However, the width and surface of a trail south, as required by the grant, would make constructing the trail relatively expensive. Constructing the trail south to the fairgrounds also made Vandalia’s  match for funding to be cash only and subject to Missouri’s prevailing wage with work contracted outside of city staff. A request was made to count more than $20,000 paid for engineering the trail to the school as the local match for the trail to the fairgrounds was denied. Vandalia has $32,000 budgeted for a trail, and city officials continue to pursue opportunities for construction.
Transfer of Property
The city council authorized city officials to transfer city property at the address of 914 South Vine to the Vandalia Housing Authority.
Purchase of the land was offered at a price of $2,500 and is waiting for final documents from the housing authority to be reviewed and executed by Vandalia officials.