Tap water in Johnstown is being treated with less chlorine, thanks to the construction of a water tank that now serves as the city’s reservoir.
The city is nearing completion of a $2.5 million project to bring the Maylender Reservoir, which was a 90-year-old open stone reservoir servicing the northern part of the city, into compliance with federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations. EPA required the city to either cap the reservoir to prevent contaminants from getting into it, or to build a sealed tank.
City Engineer Chad Kortz said the city chose to build a water tank, which was put into service in December.
“About 25 years ago the water department began being required to chlorinate the water that was coming out of that open water storage reservoir, just to make sure that if any other bacteria got in that we would kill it before it got into people’s drinking water. We were doing that even though the water was already treated before it went into the reservoir,” he said “Now that we have a covered and secure tank we no longer have to do that, which is also a money savings.”
Kortz said he won’t be sure how much the city saves by not having to treat its water twice until the system has been in operation for a year.
Other upgrades to the city’s water system were included in the $2.5 million project. Kortz said the city has installed automated valves for the main pipes from its two water treatment facilities and installed a radio communication system that allows data from the city’s pump stations and treatment plants to be monitored from a central control room. He said the new system will give officials a greater degree of control over the city’s water system and should reduce costs.
“We have access to information quicker now. We can look at the computer and get it, as opposed to visiting locations once a day and getting a single snapshot of information,” he said. “It gives us the capability of not only monitoring and being able to see our water levels, water pressure and flow at any given moment, it allows us to control the level of our new reservoir tank, which we couldn’t do before. We just controlled the old one by gravity, we didn’t have the technological means to control the level. The advantage is that before, when we had the open reservoir, if it got full it would overflow. Now we can stop filtering and treating water and allow that tank to stop, so we’re not treating water that will just overflow.”
Kortz said he expects the project to be completed before July.