The class visited Jacksonville’s $35 million water treatment plant this morning. The water treatment plant is 9 million-gallon-per-day facility located on the city’s southeast side.

The class learned that with a water supply there are no weekends or holidays, water has to be in the system every single day. One of the top priorities of the City of Jacksonville and the water treatment facility staff is to make sure water quality is consistent with no interruption of service, or at least, minimizing the risk.

The water treatment process at the plant begins with water being pumped from the city’s Illinois River wells or nearby Lake Mauvaisterre to a common chemical mixing chamber at the new plant. A clarification process occurs to remove turbidity, dirt and solids, then the water is passed through filters to remove smaller particulates. Chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals are added to make the finished water. The water is stored in the clear well, and from there is pumped into the distribution system.

A June 2011 storm that dumped more than 10 inches of rain in one day on the city of Jacksonville, inundating the old treatment plant with more than five feet of standing water was the catalyst to building the new plant. The flood required 10 days of cleanup and $700,000 in repairs before the century-old facility could resume producing potable water that met EPA standards. The 2011 flood and a similar one in 1976 that shut down the plant for three days were enough to convince city leaders of the need for a new water treatment plant.

Groundbreaking for the new water treatment plant was held in November 2015 and the plant began serving customers in the spring of 2018.

Thank you to the entire water treatment facility staff for showing us around today. Your hospitality is greatly appreciated.

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