The Reading Area Water Authority publicly recognized the efforts of filter plant employees Tuesday afternoon for their hard work in troubleshooting last month’s water supply issues.
On April 25, RAWA announced a mandatory 15% water use restriction after experiencing difficulties producing ample amounts of water at its Maiden Creek Filtration Plant. The issue caused tank levels to reach critically low levels. As a result, some customers experienced low water pressure. A week later, all tanks and reservoirs reached their normal capacity as crews implemented system process changes.
“Being in the position we are in now can only be attributed to two things. One, an excellent RAWA family and assistance from wherever we needed it, and individual American ingenuity” said Executive Director Bill Murray. “We are all proud of the efforts of our family, each and every member. Each and every associate played an important part in our successful resolution of the issue.”
Patrick Bauer, Plant Superintendent, gave a technical summary of the incident. Crews first noticed that the filters needs to be back washed/ cleaned more often, which was happening because they were taking heavier and heavier loads.
Bauer said this can happen normally, with the quick solution to adjust the chemicals. But when it didn’t resolve the issue, they immediately called in additional engineering support and water services professionals.
Bauer explained that the consensus from all the groups was that the substance used to settle the mud out of the water, the coagulant, should not contain a polymer, where in this case it did. Working with the DEP, it was recommended that due to the warm dry winter, algae was a possible cause.
A Philadelphia Water specialist was brought in, along with sending samples out to various labs across the country. They all came back with the same result, an alga bloom in the source water.
“So with the DEP’s approval we changed chemicals, our source water protection crew spread anti alga agent in the lake of copper sulfate, and while this quickly resolved our problems here, by that time the filters were no longer able to filter enough water to meet the cities demand” said Bauer.
“As Mr. Murray said just the cooperation that we got from the industries like Birdsboro Power and Ontelaunee Energy and cutting back and the citizens help allowed us to quickly recover and restore our distribution tanks to their proper levels for firefighting and water.”
Following the update and a brief video on RAWA’s work in the community, Reading Mayor Eddie Morán presented RAWA with a National Drinking Water Week Proclamation.