Hard water issues in London should clear up soon

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Repair crews are replacing a failed bearing in the city of London’s water softening system at the water plant.

(Posted March 7, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

As long as everything goes according to plan, London residents should see improvements in the clarity and softness of their fresh water by March 13 or March 14.

Approximately two months ago, a large bearing failed in the drive that rotates the paddles to mix the softening agent with the water in the city’s water softening system.

“There have been many residents reporting light brown water coming from their faucets,” said Mayor Patrick Closser in an update at the March 3 city council meeting. “This is occurring due to lack of softener in the water. The water softening step helps with the removal of iron.”

When the problem first came up, the water department staff fixed the paddles but they broke again. So, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) consulted with repair companies who determined the problem was the failed bearing.

The challenge was finding a replacement for the nearly 20-year-old 37-inch bearing. The current standard is 33 inches. The wait time to have a new 37-inch bearing made was going to be six months. BPU members didn’t want residents to wait that long. The company doing the repairs was able to find an existing 37-inch bearing so that repairs could be made much sooner.

Council member Anthony Smith praised BPU members for finding a way to speed up the process and for their constant communication on progress. Smith also said he understands how frustrating this has been for residents.

The total cost of the repair, including removal of the old bearing and installation of the new one, is approximately $80,000.

Closser said the repair company is assessing the system while they have it open, taking stock of the condition of small engines and other parts, estimating when they might need to be replaced, and providing an estimated cost for replacement.

“We’re trying to be more proactive than reactive than we were with the situation that just happened,” Closser said.

In the weeks leading up to the bearing replacement, the water department has been backwashing the current filters frequently to help with the hard-water issue. The city has been in constant contact with the Environmental Protection Agency which confirms that the water has been safe for consumption.

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