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Strasburg water plant near completion

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Strasburg's new $12 million dollar water treatment plant should come online in September, officials said this week.

Construction of the facility near Strasburg High School likely wraps up around Labor Day, according to Town Manager Judson Rex. Town Council heard an update on the project from Rex and Chris Ritenour, chief operator of the waterworks, at their meeting Tuesday.

The town needs to keep the current plant operational for 12-18 months after the new facility goes online as a backup source for water distribution, according to Ritenour. The current facility is rated at 1.04 million gallons per day. The new facility will be licensed to withdraw 2.5 million gallons per day from the Shenandoah River, Ritenour explained Thursday. The size of the facility and increased number of intakes would allow the town to withdraw approximately 3 million gallons per day, he said. The intake screens are set lower in the river to accommodate when water levels drop.

The town received the notice to proceed on the construction of the new plant in August 2009 and construction began less than a month later. As Ritenour explained, the new, larger facility also has auxiliary power through a 900-kilowatt generator. The current plant runs at about 965,000 gallons per day and produces approximately 800,000 gallons per day, according to Ritenour. The plant currently loses water in the treatment process but Ritenour explained the new facility features improvements to reduce the loss.

"It was geared toward increasing productivity and being able to supply more water to our community and better quality water," Ritenour said. "Right now we meet all the state regulations. The only thing is we'd like to provide even better water."

The new facility also should meet stricter water regulations likely to come down in the future, according to Ritenour.

"It was regulation driven and also just being able to produce more volume and more water for the public," Ritenour said.

The town received word in 2004 that it had exceeded its water production by 80 percent. This triggered a requirement that Strasburg look into upgrading its current plant or build a new facility. The town had to opt for the latter choice because the current facility underwent numerous upgrades since its initial construction in the 1930s, Ritenour said.

The construction of the new plant came at a price and Strasburg council did have to raise the town's water and sewer rates for the current fiscal year to help pay the cost of the project, Rex said.

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