Quality Control

Oct. 17, 2013
West Virginia plant copes with water quality challenges on the Ohio River

About the author: Amy McIntosh is associate editor for Water & Wastes Digest. McIntosh can be reached at [email protected] or 847.954.7966.

When American Water Works & Guarantee Co. was founded in 1886, the Huntington, W.Va., water treatment plant (WTP) was one of the first water facilities to be placed in service. The company evolved, reorganized and renamed until 1962, when it merged into what is still known today as American Water Works Co. The Huntington Div. of the West Virginia-American Water Works Co. has been in operation from the beginning of the company’s journey.

The Huntington WTP is one of the first 15-year recipients of the Partnership for Safe Water Directors Award, and has been ranked first place in the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health’s Area Wide Optimization Program for the past several years.

The plant provides water to the West Virginia towns of Huntington, Barboursville, Ona, Salt Rock and Lesage, as well as surrounding portions of Cabell and Wayne counties. It also provides water for resale to the Ohio-American Water Co. 

Treatment Process

The Huntington WTP has two intake facilities on the Ohio River: one above the Guyandotte River and one below it. 

The 24 million-gal-per-day treatment plant, located at the 24th Street Pump Station, is powered by two separate power grids that act as a backup system. Treatment includes disinfection, coagulation, sedimentation and filtration. During the filtration process, granular activated carbon filter media is added in an adsorption process to control odors and taste. 

A fluoride compound is added, as requested by the city of Huntington and authorized by the West Virginia Department of Health. A zinc orthophosphate corrosion inhibitor is added to control corrosion, and potassium permanganate is introduced at both intake facilities for zebra mussel control. 

Treated water is pumped through four main lines into the distribution system, which includes booster stations, tanks and standpipes to maintain pressure at high elevations. 

Through American Water’s Innovation and Environmental Stewardship group, Huntington was able to install an air stripper system to reduce disinfection byproducts in one area of the distribution system. It has plans to expand this air stripping technique throughout the system in the future. 

Navigating the River

With the Ohio River as the plant’s only source of water, some water quality challenges are inevitable. The Huntington WTP is staffed by a number of water quality professionals, including Greg Boyd, production superintendent.

“The members of the Huntington operations staff are quick to respond to challenges such as chemical and oil spills, when raw water had to be pumped from the Guyandotte River while oil spills passed,” Boyd said. “Algae blooms have occurred, which required the use of powdered activated carbon and more frequent filter washes.” 

One of the biggest challenges the plant faces as a result of its location on the river is the large quantity of sand that accumulates.

“The problems that arise from the sand impact all aspects of the plant operation,” Boyd said. “Mechanical deterioration of pumps and other equipment impact plant maintenance costs, accumulation of sand in the basins affect costs and water quality and the large amount of sand increases the cost of residuals disposal.”

While there is not enough room on the property for a pre-sedimentation pond or sludge removal system for the sedimentation basin, the staff has been experimenting with removal of the sand as the water enters the system. 

In a recent trial, a grit removal system removed 60% of the residuals entering the plant. Because these results indicate full implementation of the system will lead to cost savings in residuals disposal as well as equipment maintenance, installation of the system is being incorporated into future capital expense programs. 

As a member of both the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and the Organics Detection System, the plant remains committed to protecting the quality of the water in the Ohio River Valley and is required to continually monitor and report water quality conditions in the basin to ensure its safety.

Recent Developments

Recently, the plant has implemented on- and off-peak pumping techniques to save on power costs.

“By maintaining power usage below peak, the plant has been able to absorb the rising power costs without adversely affecting the customer,” Boyd said. “Variable speed pumps also are being used in low service and booster stations to reduce costs.”

The Huntington WTP also has constructed a training room to hold continuing education classes for employees, and a new control room was built to house the SCADA for plant and distribution sites. 

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About the Author

Amy McIntosh

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