Faced with 10 shutdowns and scores of alarms caused by faulty equipment at its Lopez Water Treatment Plant over the past three years, the county intends to buy new equipment and stop using the earlier model supplied by DuPont.
The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to spend $141,266 to have International Dioxcide — an arm of DuPont — “design, supply, install, and provide technical support for” a new chlorine dioxide generation system.
The money will be transferred from two other plant projects: a sludge beds upgrade and PH suppression.
The plant has provided drinking water to South County communities since 1969.
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The board will be meeting as the governing board for the county Flood Control and Water Conservation District. It has placed the expenditure on its consent calendar, which is where they put items they do not intend to discuss.
The older equipment was put in place during a 2007 remodeling of the entire plant. The chlorine dioxide generation system was just one part of a much larger overhaul, according to Tom Trott, project manager.
Nonetheless, since its installation, the system has “frequently experienced problems” in thoroughly disinfecting water and ”these problems have directly caused 10 plant shutdowns and more than 75 plant malfunction alarms in the past three years, “according to a report from Trott to the Board of Supervisors.
Trott said there never was any threat to the drinking water.
However, the breakdowns highlighted the plant’s inability to disinfect the water as efficiently as possible.
In addition, Trott said, the contract with DuPont, whose equipment it is, required DuPont to “handle” problems with it, “inhibiting (the county’s) ability to provide timely fixes.”
Why would the county buy new equipment from an outfit whose previous equipment caused such problems? Because, Trott said, DuPont is a reputable company and is familiar with the Lopez plant.
In addition, the problem was more with the design of the old equipment, he said.
Trott said Dupont representatives were responsive to requests to fix the previous system. Nonetheless, its efforts, which also drew in local water district personnel, ended “without success.”
The water district will own and maintain the new system, Trott said.