Latest News – Updated 8/30/2016
We have awarded the first of many contracts for our Water System Improvement Project. M-2 Construction from Ontario Oregon will soon begin to install a new 14” water line from Wadleigh Park to the Rhinehart Storage Reservoir. The new pipeline will increase flow from the reservoir which will stabilize water pressure throughout town as well as provide additional fire flow during periods of high demand.
As part of this contract we will officially decommission and remove the 112-year-old underground storage next to the Rhinehart Water Tank. This underground tank was taken off line three years ago due to structural failures in the walls and roof which could allow possible contamination of the tank.
We are currently working on the design of the new Arsenic Treatment Facility and Storage Tank to be located at the Airport along with the permits required to install the piping from the Washington Street Well to the Airport Treatment Plant. We are on schedule to advertise these contracts beginning in February of next year.
Over the next three months the Public Work Committee and the City Council will review pre-design reports and select options for final design of the Cities Treatment and Storage of our Water System Improvements.
On January 22, 2001 the Environmental Protection Agency adopted new standards for arsenic in drinking water, changing it from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb. As a result, Vale’s water did not meet the new EPA guidelines coming in at around 13 ppb. As a result Vale was selected by the EPA as a pilot city to test new water purification methods to remove arsenic from its water supply and bring it within EPA guidelines. The result is the water treatment plant that is currently being used. in simple terms the current water purification process uses a special media which attracts the arsenic particles as the water flows through it. To clean the media it is back washed. One downside to this process is the enormous amounts of salt that are required in the system to make it work. On average the city spent roughly $4,000 per 4-6 weeks for salt for the water treatment. In recent years, long after the pilot funding from the EPA had been depleted the media became less and less efficient in removing arsenic. After researching several nonviable options such as replacing the media, City Manager Lynn Findley decided to test the water for arsenic and other nitrates without running it through the water treatment plant to see if the current treatment was having any affect. In short, treating the water through the media resulted in the same arsenic levels as not treating it all. At that point City Manager Findley contacted the Oregon Health Authority and entered into a Bi-Lateral Compliance Agreement to bring the city’s drinking water into compliance with the EPA guidelines and the city is working towards that effort. The first step was to update the city’s Water System Master Plan that evaluated its water source, flow, distribution, treatment (water quality), pressure and storage needs, as well as outline improvements that will be required to address those needs. As part of the planning process, the city will work with the Oregon Health Authority to identify the best source, treatment, storage and delivery options available. Instead of an Arsenic Treatment Demonstration Plant, which is the current failed system, the city will identify the best treatment system options for its water supply and pursue that technology as quickly as all water sources still receive chlorination and regular water quality testing to ensure bacterial and other standards are achieved. The city will continue to monitor the arsenic levels and report those results to water users as well as the Oregon Health Authority on a quarterly basis. The process to bring the city’s drinking water into compliance with EPA and Oregon Health Authority standards are complicated and will be expensive. The city is working hard to ensure that whatever measures it takes are fully supported by the best technology and science available that will specifically deal with its current water quality issues and be of the best value for its citizens.
Until this project is completed the city will continue to notify its residents of violations of drinking water standards and the steps it is taking to resolve them.
The city has hired the engineering group Anderson-Perry & Associates to look into possible alternatives to the water issues in Vale. After several public work sessions the council decided the best course of action is to implement new “green sand” technology. To make sure that the green sand technology will work with our specific water variations, the city implemented a pilot with vigorous testing. The results of numerous tests over the course of several months was very positive. At this point the city is working on funding options and in the planning stages of a new water treatment plant.
The City has secured funding to begin the design and construction of the Water System Improvements project. Once completed this project will increase our water supply by piping all of our existing wells into a new water treatment plant to remove Arsenic and other organic materials. Once we treat the water we will store it in a new storage tank that will be located at the Airport. This new tank will help reduce pressure fluctuations within the City and improve fire flow during emergencies. The final component of the project will be to replace the water transmission pipe line up to the Rinehart storage tank. This new pipeline will also reduce pressure problems as well as increase fire flow within the entire city.
This is a very large and complex project and we hope to have final design and construction specifications completed within the next 12 months with construction immediately thereafter.
You may have noticed marking paint on the streets and surveyors all over town lately. This is a sign we have started the design phase of our Water System Improvement Project. Over the next month and a half our Contracted Engineering Staff will develop a “pre-design report” that will outline alternative water storage reservoir types, water treatment facility concepts and pipe routing considerations. The report will also include preliminary opinions of probable construction cost for all of the options.
This is a large, complex and expensive project, and we will take every step necessary to ensure whatever action we take is the best for the city. As a result our extensive testing we conducted last summer, we have received a report on an Arsenic Filtration System that will absolutely remove Arsenic from our water. The engineers will utilize this report to design the size of filtration system we need to treat our drinking water supply.
Over the next three months the City Council will review the “pre-design report” and select options for final design of the Cities Source, Storage and Treatment our Water System.
Update 4/22/2016A delivery schedule has been posted for the Vale water project.