Local News

Story published: 01-09-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Town changes water treatment method

By Kristen Swing
Executive Editor

The Town of Jonesborough is returning to a method of disinfecting water that hasn’t been used by the treatment plant in several years.

At a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last month, members unanimously approved a plan for the Water Treatment Plant to return to using a mixed oxidant method to treat the town’s water. Currently, water is treated using a chlorine gas system.

Several years ago, the town purchased equipment to use the mixed oxidant disinfection system, called MIOX, but struggled to keep the equipment working.

“We used it for an extended period of time, but we kept having problems. We were having trouble with the fittings and piping system,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “The mixed oxidant worked great and the water tastes treat, but getting it through the system had problems. It was a constant maintenance issue.”

With chlorine gas already in place as a back-up, the town opted to turn to that method as its primary way of treating water rather than dealing with the MIOX equipment.

Fast forward four years and “the equipment has greatly improved,” according to Mike Jackson, director of water treatment.

The town will purchase upgraded MIOX disinfection equipment for approximately $126,000 and will pay another $22,000 to install the equipment.

With new limitations on the lower limits for byproducts allowed in finished water set to go into effect later this year, the move to MIOX may end up being cheaper than keeping the chlorine gas method, Browning said.

Such byproducts are created with the interaction of chlorine with water, and are much more prevalent when the chlorine is in the form of gas, he explained.

According to Jackson, the current method of treatment will likely result in the town exceeding the new byproduct limits from time to time. In order to meet them consistently with the chlorine gas system, the town would have to add another step to its filtering process.

“We are going to have to spend money one way or another to be able to meet the byproducts requirements,” Browning said.

The MIOX system, he added, is less expensive than trying to take out byproducts generated through the chlorine gas method.

“With the MIOX, the byproducts are not created in the first place,” Browning said.

Jackson called the MIOX system a “much more efficient disinfectant” than the chlorine gas method.

“It’s a much more efficient disinfectant. It solves all types of problems,” Jackson said. “Your water has a better taste.”

The disinfectant, which uses the electrolysis of salt to treat water, also is much safer to handle than utilizing chlorine gas, Jackson noted.

“You can stick your hand in the solution,” he said. “You can drink some of it; I wouldn’t want to, but you could.”