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Dept. of Natural Resources outlines plan of action for Creston Water Works

The Creston City Water Works Board of Trustees met for their regular meeting last night to discuss a number of items. The largest amount of time, however was spent with Environmental Specialist Keith Wilken, of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, holding the floor.

After the 15-day boil order, which was lifted on June 16, a number of changes are coming to Creston Water Works.

Wilken outlined six key points in the DNR’s plan of action to help reduce the chance of a repeat of June’s events.

“This is the second major event at this plant in 10 years and, as you know, you guys (Creston Water Works) provide water to a lot of people,” said Wilken. “Any time an event like this happens ... it’s not only a public health concern but it disrupts lives and it disrupts businesses, and we want to do everything we think we need to do to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. And we will provide all the resources we can to do that.”

The first is to install a new strainer at the head of the water treatment plant. The current strainer at the plant has been offline for four years, and it no longer functions. Wilken mentioned that the installation of the new strainer may bring other work that needs to be done to light, such as dredging out lagoons.

The next point of order is for the plant to install continuous turbidimeters, at the raw water intakes as well as following the water leaving the plant’s superpulsators.

“We believe that those are meters that can give your operators real time data as to, not what only is coming into your plant ... but also gives you real time data as to what’s leaving those superpulsators and going off to your filtration membranes,” explained Wilken.

Wilken’s third point is not a permanent change for the plant, but a change from the usual routine. Because the DNR will be issuing a notice of violation for the June events, specifically a treatment technique violation, Creston Water Works will be required to directly mail their consumer confidence reports this year. Reports were also direct mailed last year.

The fourth piece of the action plan is that membrane tests be sent to the DNR upon installation. The installation of new membranes in a plant, like any new equipment, requires a construction permit prior to installation. However, Creston has been granted permission to install prior to obtaining permits.

The last two points were services being offered to Creston Water Works: a training program and a comprehensive performance evaluation.

The former is a pilot program the DNR is launching July 30 that will focus on training operators in surface water filtration. Wilkens named two employees in particular that he “would like to see attend,” if the board was in favor of it. It was brought up to Wilkens by a member of the plant that SIRWA had offered to pay for employees to attend a different training program. Wilkens said that employees attending that program instead would also be acceptable to the DNR.

The latter is aptly named. A comprehensive performance evaluation would include DNR employees conducting interviews with plant workers, evaluating equipment and observing plant operations, among other things, over the course of a week. The compiled information would be provided to the board and plant manager to help guide reform and upgrades within the plant.

Other business in the meeting included discussing the revised City of Creston Water Works employee manual, an update on the progress of the hiring search for a new full-time plant manager and conducting regular waterworks business, as well as hearing reports and requests from plant workers and city residents. A joint work session with the city council was held directly after, during which no action was taken.

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