Issues found at Greenville water treatment plant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/17/2018 6:00:04 PM

Greenville Select Board members discovered several maintenance issues at the town’s water treatment plant during a recent visit.

On Dec. 3, Select Board Chair Maggie Bickford and Selectwoman Carla Mary visited the plant on an unrelated matter, and found what Mary described in a statement as “lack of facility maintenance, improper dosing of facility chemicals and extreme amounts of built-up sludge throughout the facility.”

The Greenville water treatment facility is run by a contracted outside company, Utility Partners. a company which operates maintains and manages public works, water, wastewater and billing for municipalities in the United States and Canada. Utility Partners has run Greenville’s sewer and water treatment facilities since 2012, according to Mary. Their most recent contract was for $501,323 annually for the operation of both water and sewer facilities.

Mary wrote in a statement she read before the most recent meeting of the Greenville Select Board the conditions of the Water Treatment facility put her in doubt of Public Utilities management of the plant.

“It is my feeling that if we had not visited the facility, it would still be running that way,” Mary wrote. “With my 27 years of water treatment plant experience, I know that it has taken months for the facility to be in this condition. Even if the issues were due to the lack of knowledge or concern of the onsite Project Manager, I feel Utility Partners is at fault for not providing upper management oversight of the facility to ensure the facilities are run properly.”

Mary said that on the Dec. 3 visit to the plant, Select Board members found that Utility Partners were improperly chemically dosing the water, which was blocking water filters. The filters were still functional when the issue was discovered, Mary said, so water quality was not impacted. However, she said, if over-dosing had continued, the filters could have been blocked or damaged, which would have prevented water treatment and cost between $20,000 to treat.

In testing this month, it was determined Utility Partners was over-dosing with chemicals by 25 percent, which has now been adjusted. 

Mary said sludge removal equipment in one of the sub-basins wasn’t functioning and hadn’t been for at least a month, leading to a build-up of sludge. 

Mary said currently, all issues identified during the Dec. 3 visit to the plant have been resolved, according to regular updates the Select Board has received from Utility Partners, though the board has not made a follow-up visit in person to inspect the plant.

Mary said these issues could have been avoided with more careful operational oversight by Utility Partners. 

“They’re running the facilities for the town. The facility wasn’t running properly and it was detrimental to the town to keep them running in the state they were in,” she said in an interview Monday.

Utility Partners reported to the Select Board that issues were compounded by an increase in rainwater and runoff, Mary said. But Utility Partners should have better monitored any fluctuations in the raw water stream, and made adjustments as needed.

Utility Partners also did not empty and clean the water treatment facility’s lagoons this summer, a task which the town allocated $150,000 from the water expendable trust for during March Town Meeting. 

Mary said the Select Board has discussed contracting an outside party to do an annual evaluation of the water treatment facilities.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 


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