MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) — Moulton Utilities has officially begun efforts to fix problems with drinking water that the community has spoken out about. Those reported problems include taste, smell, and color.
At a May 9 city council work session, the Chief Water Plant Operator Stanley Nichols spoke to the council and attendees regarding his plans. He said he would be treating the water intake lake on May 16.
News 19 followed up with Nichols to see how the treatment plan is going.
He invited News 19 reporter Emily Moessner and Assignment Manager Cristina Byrne to the Water Treatment Plant for a tour.
Nichols explained to News 19 that the taste/smell issue is separate from a water color/quality issue.
He said the taste and smell issue is related to the previous algae bloom at the water intake lake, which is about 2.5 miles from the water treatment plant.
On Monday, boats injected copper sulfate into the intake lake to treat it. Nichols said his team is also installing injection sites along the water lines between the lake and the plant, to inject more copper sulfate into the water supply.
Nichols explained the plant was already adding copper sulfate into the water at the treatment plant as part of the chemical mixture, but by injecting it on the way to the plant, it gives the chemical more time to react and fix the issue.
Nichols said the water at the plant is already tasting better. However, he said it could take a few weeks until the water from the recently treated lake makes it all the way to people’s homes, for them to be able to taste a difference.
He also explained that the amount of copper sulfate added is calculated carefully, so it is a very small amount, and not harmful to humans.
Nichols also showed News 19 the extensive water testing processes the plant does every day. The plant is staffed 24/7 by a water operator, to keep up with the testing schedules. Certain levels are monitored by a computer and logged. Other tests are done by hand every hour, every other hour, or once a day, depending on the test.
Those daily testing logs are stored for at least 10 years. The daily logs also get translated into a monthly report submitted to the state.
When News 19 reached out to the Alabama Department of Environmental Quality earlier this month, they reiterated the water samples from Moulton fall within state guidelines, and that it is safe to drink.
During the tour of the plant, Nichols explained the water treatment process. In a very simplified explanation, after the water gets to the plant, it is added to a series of basins. In the first basin, it is treated with a mixture of chemicals. Those chemicals help dirt and sediment sink to the bottom. Then the water gets pumped through the different basins, and it gets cleaner in the process.
On the way out of one side of the plant, the water gets chlorine dioxide added to it. Then the water hits the filtration stations. The plan has four filters across two filtration basins.
Nichols explained that the filters are made up of sand, anthracite (coal) and garnet stone. As the water filters through, any remaining dirt and sediment are caught by the sand.
After the water goes through the filters, it makes its way to the holding tanks.
News 19 watched as Nichols performed several tests on the newly treated water. It had no color or clarity issues.
News 19’s Emily Moessner also sampled the water directly from the tap. The water was crystal clear in color, however it did have a slightly earthy taste.