Contingency Plan Calls For Temporary Waterlines

West Virginia American Water taking extra precautions in response to increasing algal bloom activity on the Ohio River

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West Virginia American Water initiated a contingency plan last week for a temporary backup water supply to its Huntington water treatment plant in response to increasing algal bloom activity on the Ohio River. 

The company’s contingency plan included running large, temporary raw waterlines from the Guyandotte River and tying them into the company’s current raw waterline. The work took around 48 hours to complete. 

Company engineers calculated the necessary emergency pump and line capacities to draw water from the Guyandotte River approximately three-quarters of a mile upstream of the confluence of the Ohio River to avoid the lower section of the Guyandotte that is most influenced by Ohio River backflow water. The work will be performed by contractors who specialize in installing and operating temporary waterlines.

“West Virginia American Water initiated this contingency plan today after reviewing testing results and considering the time required to construct a temporary alternate intake,” said Jeffrey McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, in a press release. “We consulted with our environmental regulatory agencies and made this decision with careful consideration of technical feasibility, current and predicted risk to the water system, and time necessary to execute the plan.” 

 

Photos of the monumental work performed over the past 48 hours after enacting our contingency plan in response to the...

Posted by West Virginia American Water on Saturday, September 5, 2015

Since the discovery, the company has followed the U.S. EPA’s recommendations, which include monitoring water quality and enhancing treatment techniques. West Virginia American Water continues to coordinate water-quality monitoring and testing with ORSANCO, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio EPA and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

Analytical results show no impact from the algal bloom at this time in the Huntington water system’s treated water. The Huntington water system continues to meet all drinking water standards, and there are no advisories currently in effect. However, continued testing of the Ohio River at and above the Huntington water treatment plant’s intakes indicate elevated levels of microcystin, a product of blue-green algae.

Although current levels do not present an immediate risk to the water system, forecasted weather conditions may cause algal blooms to increase and require additional response actions, according to the company's press release.

“We have great confidence in our treatment plant’s capabilities and ultimately may not need to use this backup source,” McIntyre said. “However, after weighing all of the factors, we feel the best decision is to take extra precaution for the protection of our customers in the event that the blooms worsen.”

West Virginia American Water continues to monitor water quality upstream and at the Huntington water treatment plant. The formation of algal blooms is dependent upon a number of environmental conditions, including the presence of nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), climate and stratification of the water source.



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