The Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority (L-EWA) Board of Directors tackled water quality concerns Thursday as it discussed ways to alleviate an ongoing taste and odor issue for local tap users.
L-EWA General Manager Mike Hancock explained that two chemicals, 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and Geosmin, were altering the water quality, but noted they weren’t harmful and that the water is still safe to drink.
“The chemicals are the byproducts of the death of blue-green algae, which is known to be in surface water. It’s a common occurrence, at least once a year, usually in the hot months,” Hancock said.
Each summer, the L-EWA treats the water supply with Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) to combat the problem, but the equipment that dispenses the treatment recently malfunctioned.
“There are these 900-pound sacks that sit there and feed this chemical into the water stream which absorbs the Geosmin and the MIB. The machine, however, broke down twice,” Hancock said. “The first time, we had the machine operating again in about two days. The second time we had to get the part from Ohio. That allowed the ‘un-additionally’ treated water to go through the system.”
He said the L-EWA is spending about $500 a day to counteract the water’s taste and odor issues.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “We had a period there where we didn’t take the medicine so to speak so now we’re working on it harder than before. It is an irritant, but it doesn’t harm anybody.”
The board also discussed “a bottleneck” problem occurring at the L-EWA’s water treatment plant.
Hancock explained that the problem involves controlling leaking and removing and replacing the existing water piping at the Lake Wateree Water Treatment Plant near Clear Well No. 1. He said the problem has forced treatments to not occur as quickly as before.
“It slows everything down,” he said. “We’re combining things here and installing a new line to overcome the bottleneck. In the process, we’re going to drain that tank and do an inspection on the inside of it to see what needs to be done.”
Following Hancock’s outlining of the project, the board unanimously approved the lowest of three bids, which came from Lugoff-based Conder Construction for $89,000.
Hancock said the L-EWA would once again seek bids after the initial examination of the clear well is complete.
“The contract we have here says they’ll install the new line, get rid of the bottleneck, open up the tank, wash it out and inspect, then stop and wait till we see what needs to be done. Then we’ll contract that out and take bids on that.”
L-EWA Chairman Chuck Everett asked Hancock if the project would be completed or perhaps be “well under way” by next month.
Hancock answered that it “should be well under way” by then.
Everett then suggested the board hold its November meeting at the water treatment plant. He said it would allow board members to receive a personal update on the project as well as help recently-elected board member Ann Stewart become more familiar with the facility.
In other business, Hancock noted the L-EWA recently sent 231 “bad debt” claims to the S.C. Municipal Association, and the board unanimously approved the L-EWA’s financial statements for August.