Woodstock mulls water plant improvements

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK – The town plans to upgrade its water treatment plant for the first time since it opened 40 years ago.

Town Manager Reid Wodicka says that stricter, federal guidelines in the pipeline may require Woodstock to make the improvements anyway. The town needed to start work on the upgrades now in order to secure funding for the project, Wodicka said last week. Town Council would need to adopt a resolution to allow Wodicka to pursue funding options.

At a tour of the plant this week, Wodicka and Superintendent of Public Works James Didawick spoke about the inner workings of the facility and the upgrades under consideration.

A preliminary engineering report presented to a Town Council committee last week put the total project cost at $3.3 million. The report comes out of an analysis of the plant, the condition of its equipment, any parts in need of repair or replacement. Town officials now plan to investigate how to fund these upgrades, investigate alternatives and to see if Woodstock could use a phased approach to spread the cost over time. Wodicka estimated the town will take the next six to eight months to work on this project.

The report recommends the town replace the three filters in use at the plant since its opening.

In addition to replacing some older parts of the plant, the town will consider installing ultraviolet disinfection equipment that removes more bacteria and other organisms that can pass through the initial filtration process but not susceptible to chlorine treatment. Federal guidelines likely will focus mostly on the amount of crytosporidium found in river water, Wodicka explained. The town received a notice years ago that the level of cryptosporidium in the water had exceeded the maximum levels. Ultraviolet light can rid the water of the bacteria and other organisms, Wodicka said.

“We continually maintain our facility — that allows it to be used for a long time so we don’t want to get in trouble and have problems down the road,” Wodicka said last week.

The plant draws water from the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Equipment removes solids from the raw water. The plant adds chemicals that kill certain bacteria and viruses that can exist in the water. In addition, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay while carbon reduces odors in the water. The plant sends the treated drinking water to either of the town’s large, above-ground storage tanks.

Some of the water and sediment removed during the treatment process currently goes to two backwash ponds. From there, the solids are sent to a sludge press on site that removes the last amounts of water, leaving the remaining material.

Didawick explained that the town is looking into replacing the aging, clay-lined ponds with large tanks. The backwash would stay in the tanks until sent via a sewage force main to the town’s wastewater collection system. Wodicka said the plan is to use the excess capacity at the wastewater treatment plant and send the backwash water through that facility.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com