Modesto Irrigation District honored for water treatment plant’s performance

local@modbee.comJanuary 1, 2014 

— Despite problems with its expansion, the older part of Modesto’s water treatment plant has become only the eighth in the United States to win a national award for providing “the highest possible level of individual filter performance.”

Winning utilities submit to “a rigorous, four-phase self-assessment and peer review process” developed by industry experts, according to a news release from the Modesto Irrigation District, which owns and operates the plant near Waterford. It turns Tuolumne River water into drinking water for Modesto customers.

The Phase IV Presidents Award is presented by the Partnership for Safe Water, a consortium of organizations headed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Other participants are the American Water Works Association, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the National Association of Water Companies and the Water Research Foundation.

“This award is a reflection of MID staff who operate and maintain the water treatment plant and our laboratory staff who make sure that the high standards we set for ourselves are met,” the release says. “All are extremely proud of this achievement.”

The plant opened in 1994. Modesto and MID agreed in 2005 to more than double plant capacity from 30 million gallons of water per day to 66 million gallons. The city mixes that with well water before sending it to Modesto taps, and also has water customers in Empire, Salida, Waterford, Hickman, Grayson, Del Rio, and small parts of Ceres and Turlock.

Faulty design and construction are partly blamed for pushing the expansion’s price nearly $45 million higher than initially planned, to an estimated total of $107.5 million. The work is expected to be finished in 2015 – six years late – and a lawsuit between MID and City Hall over who should cover a shortfall of $9 million or so has not been settled.

The Partnership for Safe Water award is scheduled to be presented in June at the American Water Works Association’s annual conference in Boston. Previous winners include the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and plants in San Diego, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

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