Adams Water Treatment Plant has been delivering water to Alexander City citizens and beyond since 1982 and, thanks to an ongoing multimillion dollar project, will continue serving area residents for years to come.

Plant superintendent Larry McCollum said a nearly three-year $2.4 million rehabilitation project is set to be completed this summer. It will take care of issues noticed after 35 years of service.

“We started to notice the tanks we store chemicals in starting to lean,” McCollum said. “The concrete was shifting because the ground was expanding underneath due to leaks of caustic chemicals.”

McCollum said the tanks developed a slow leak and went unnoticed until the issue of the leaning tanks.

“The caustic chemical was crystallizing in the soil and expanding,” McCollum said. “The expanding soil made the concrete move.” 

The project will remove the tanks, concrete and the affected soil replacing it with clean soil, new tanks and a new treatment solution that is more stable and doesn’t use the caustic chemical.

“We are going away from the caustic chemicals and using a lime slurry,” McCollum said. “We are getting a new pad for tanks. The area contractors dig up and remove will be turned into more parking.”

McCollum said the project will also install new hypochlorite chemical pumps to help disinfect  water. A new phosphate system will be installed.

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Adams Water Treatment Plant superintendent Larry McCollum points out some of the work being done in one of the final filters at the plant including a crack. 

“The phosphate is added to the water to help coat the pipes in the water system,” McCollum said. “It will help prevent the buildup inside of the pipes from falling into the water in the delivery system.”

McCollum said the buildup is similar to what owners of older homes see in galvanized pipes similar to rust.

Another addition to the water treatment process will please many users who occasionally notice a smell to the water due an algae bloom mainly occurring during the summer.

“An activated carbon feed system is being installed,” McCollum said. “It is near the intake on the lake. If we catch the bloom early enough, we can use this to help control the smell.”

McCollum said even if the smell from the algae bloom makes it to the water system, what is pumped is safe for consumption and the city will issue warnings about the water if a problem occurs that makes water unsafe.

“Our water is always real safe,” McCollum said. “It is also really clear.”

McCollum said the plant is manned 24/7 to ensure citizens are protected from unsafe water.

The last part of the project is to repair one of six multimedia filters at the plant.

“It has not been in operation for a few years,” McCollum said. “It has a crack. Contractors will repair and seal the crack.” 

The filter consisting of layers of charcoal, sand and gravel will then be installed. Once the filter is put back into operation, it will not add to the capacity of the system.

“We are permitted to only draw up to 24 milllion gallons of water from the lake per day,” McCollum said. “This will take some of the load off the other filters.”

The last time major work was done at Adams Water Treatment Plant was in 2001 when what is now known as Exelon was locating a natural gas power generating plant on Brick Plant Road.

“They funded a large part of the expansion then,” McCollum said. “They wanted to ensure they had plenty of water.”

The 2001 expansion added three more filters and two settling basins taking the total to six filters and six settling basins, but it did not change anything else at the filter plant.

McCollum said Exelon is easily Alexander City’s largest consumer of water.

“They use 3 to 4 million gallons a day,” McCollum said.

Water from the Adams Water Treatment Plant does not serve just Alexander City. McCollum said wholesale buyers include water authorities in Walnut Hill, Jacksons Gap, Dadeville, the Ray community, Hackneyville, New Site, Kellyton and Goodwater. Dadeville also sells water to Camp Hill. It sounds like a lot of water is needed across the area, but McCollum said the plant can handle it all and more.

“We have a rating to process 24 million gallons of water a day,” McCollum said. “Right now we are averaging between 8.6 and 12.7 million gallons a day. The number goes up some in the summer.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.