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PORT WASHINGTON - The city is working to install an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system to its water treatment plant, which would add another layer of protection for residents against pathogens.

The city’s common council passed a request from the water department to move forward with the project at its May 16 meeting.

Port Washington Water Superintendent David Kleckner said the city is looking to add the UV disinfection system “to provide a second barrier to protect the city water supply from pathogens which can be resistant to chlorine disinfection such as cryptosporidium.”

The council gave approval in February for the water department as well as the city’s consultant, City Water, LLC, to meet with the Department of Natural Resources and the Public Service Commission to discuss the project and obtain approvals to proceed with project design.

Tom Nenning, president of City Water, LLC, said due to a recent change, the city can’t submit its plans to PSC without a final design. The city is looking to submit 90 percent plans and specifications to the DNR and PSC for their approval.

Nenning said the DNR noted at its last meeting in March the city’s proposed plan would not meet all requirements for a compliant UV disinfection system mainly due to not having a redundant system or uninterrupted power supply. The treated water also has to meet 99.9 percent of current specifications.

The project has been budgeted for about $500,000, but to make it fully compliant would increase the cost to $2 million. Nenning said while the city wouldn’t meet 99.9 percent with the current plan, it would be pretty close.

If the city goes with the current design configuration, which is retrofitted into the current space, it would be difficult to add elements later to make the system fully compliant, Nenning said.

It’s estimated the project will be completed at the end of September.

One of two

Port Washington isn’t required to have a UV disinfection system, but is only one of two surface water treatment plants in the state yet to add the system — the other is Oak Creek, but that community is working on it.

Oak Creek Water and Sewer Utility General Manager Mike Sullivan said 17 of the state’s 19 water treatment facilities have installed the advanced disinfection system since the 1993 cryptosporidium outbreak.

Nenning said Oak Creek is working to meet full compliance. Part of the reasoning for that, he speculated, was due to the city’s plant expansion and plans to sell water to Waukesha. He said Port Washington didn’t have any plans for such expansions or sales.

Sullivan said Oak Creek is proposing to install UV not because of the potential water sale to Waukesha but as part of a larger project addressing potential public health hazards identified by the DNR related to an old buried water tank. The city is still waiting for approval from PSC, which is expected in September.

Even though the potential water sale to Waukesha didn’t influence the move toward installing the system, Sullivan said Waukesha would benefit from it.

“UV will provide Waukesha customers, along with Oak Creek’s existing customers, confidence that Oak Creek is doing everything possible to maintain high water quality standards,” he said.

Sullivan said UV disinfection has a number of benefits such as no volatile organic compound emission or toxic air emissions, no overdose danger, no taste or odor added to the water, the system requires minimal space to install, and only requires seconds of contact time versus minutes for other methods, such as chlorine.

Oak Creek’s UV disinfection system is estimated to cost about $4.3 million.

Sullivan said he applauds Port Washington’s “forward thinking” with the installation of a UV disinfection system.

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