Jail board tackles too pure rainwater issue

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL – The Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren Regional Jail Authority Thursday approved a fix for an unlikely problem: rainwater collected on the roof of the building is too pure.

Carrie Henaghan, the jail’s project manager, told members of the authority that the purity of the rainwater, defined as no hardness and low pH, was harming the surface of the cooling tower.

“It’s doing corrosive work on the cooling tower,” Henaghan said, adding that the damage will worsen over time if nothing is done.

The rainwater, which is collected in a cistern, is used for the cooling tower and the laundry. The cistern has been shut down in response to warnings from the manufacturer about the water’s corrosive effects on the tower.

The authority voted to solve the problem with a plan that would involve a carbon and neutralizer filter assembly to treat the rainwater before it reaches the cooling tower. The plan requires the installation of three tanks, one to hold the carbon filter and the other two for the neutralizer.

The total cost of the system through 2025 is estimated at $338,912, including installation and ongoing costs for maintenance and water from the town. Water from the town will still be required when not enough rainwater is available from the cistern.

Henaghan said the state Department of Corrections could cover half of the $20,000 needed to install the three tanks.

“We’ve got to dirty it up a little bit,” authority chairman Douglas Stanley said of the rainwater supply.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com