Quick action by a plant employee prevented contamination from reaching the purification system at the Allen Water Filter Plant so the city’s water …
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Quick action by a plant employee prevented contamination from
reaching the purification system at the Allen Water Filter Plant so
the city’s water supply was never threatened.
The filter plant takes raw water from sources like the South
Platte River and puts it through a many-step purification system to
provide drinking water for the city of Englewood’s residents.
Stu Fonda, utilities director, said an operator was making a
routine check about 1 a.m. Christmas day when he detected a strong
petroleum odor in the water coming into the plant from the South
Platte River by way of the Union Avenue Pump Station.
“The technician took immediate action, shutting down the flow of
water from the pump station to the filter plant,” Fonda said “He
then followed the plant procedures as he immediately called for
additional plant personnel to help handle the situation plus he
notified the Environmental Protection Agency and Homeland Security
of what had happened.”
Plant personnel quickly opened the gates to allow flow in the
city ditch, which brought a supply of uncontaminated water into the
plant. The new source of water provided what was needed to flush
all the contamination out of the system plus provide a back-up
supply when the plant went back on line.
At the same time, EPA personnel were at work determining the
type and, if possible, the source of the contamination.
Fonda said the EPA report stated the contamination was most
probably a petroleum-based cleaning solution that probably was
illegally dumped into the South Platte River in order to avoid the
costly process to properly dispose of it.
Bill McCormick, utilities operations superintendent, said crews
worked quickly to restore plant operations.
“We used the water from the city ditch to flush the pretreatment
system and the filters so we could restore operations. We had to
have EPA approval to start pumping water to the system and we got
the approval about six hours after the problem was discovered,” he
said. “Fortunately, it is winter so demand is low and we had
treated water stored so there was never any interruption in water
pressure of supplies.”
However, the cleanup went on long after plant operations
resumed. He said, while most of the flushing and cleanup was done
in about eight hours, it took about 16 hours to drain and flush the
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