SL industries go back to work, but mandate goes on
Three industries were back to work yesterday after filtration problems at the water treatment plant were fixed - at least temporarily.
Crews from the City of Storm Lake, IBP and US Filter, which operates the facility on contract with the city, worked around the clock this weekend to install and test a temporary filter.
Two of the treatment facility's four filters failed within a week of each other, prompting the city to enact strict conservation measures and forcing three industries to shut down operations Friday and Saturday.
Two temporary filters were brought in late Friday night, and were up and running before Monday.
"The filter is now active and current flows appear to be adequate to allow industry to resume production..." John Call, city administrator, said in a statement Sunday. "The city will continue to monitor water levels and maintain fire protection levels."
City officials stressed that the current repairs to the treatment facility are not permanent and the portable filter is only a temporary solution.
"(We) still consider the conditions at the water plant to be critical," Call said. "Citizens and businesses are asked to conserve water usage as much as possible until permanent repairs are completed."
Repairs are currently underway to three filters, which includes two broken ones. A fourth filter was replaced last year and is in good working condition.
Call said the remaining three filters will be rehabilitated incrementally within the next eight weeks.
Crews had removed the 80,000 pounds of filtration media on Sunday from filter #4, and worked on removing the drain system yesterday, Winterton said. The replacement parts are expected to arrive Thursday, with work beginning by this weekend to fix the broken filter.
The city hopes to see that filter up and running by the end of the month, Call said.
City Engineer Jim Winterton said the temporary filters were working well as of Monday. IBP assisted in tracking down the filters from an Omaha company. "We appreciate the work done by IBP to get this in," Winterton said.
Personnel from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources were at the treatment plant over the weekend testing the water coming out of the temporary filters to ensure it met water quality standards. Winterton said the water passed.
Combined, the two temporary filters are pumping about 2 million gallons of water per day, Winterton said. The filters operate differently than the ones currently at the treatment plant. Instead of water flowing down through layers of anthracite, sand and gravel, water is forced through a series of 54 filters in a large tank, Winterton said.
While things are looking good, Winterton said the need for caution is still there. "It seems to be doing the job now, but this is a temporary measure," he said.
The situation has improved for the city and industry, though. "It's looking a lot better than it did at 5 p.m. on Thursday," Winterton said.
Because of the temporary filter, commercial car washes and three industries - IBP, Bil Mar and Tuscarora - were allowed to reopen on Sunday. Also, an incident command center at the police station was closed down Monday morning once it appeared the temporary filters were working.
However, other mandatory water conservation measures are still in effect, which affect all users of the Storm Lake Water System, including residents in Lakeside, Bel Air, Stoney Point, Truesdale, South Shore and Lake Creek.
The conservation measures are:
* All residential car washing is banned.
* All exemptions given for the prior conservation measures are no longer valid.
* Outdoor watering is banned completely for all residential, commercial and industrial users, though citizens may still water flowers and shrubs with watering cans and sprinkling cans.
Call said the city appreciates the help of its citizens, businesses and industry as well as for their cooperation during the water crisis.
"The mayor, city council and city administration will continue to stay vigilant in respect to this crisis and the citizens of Storm Lake are assured that all repairs will be made in a timely manner," Call said.
For information, contact City Hall at 732-8000.