Water towers and voltage spikes

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Keeping Canal Winchester’s three water towers operational and from becoming eyesores falls upon the shoulders of a $77,000 10-year maintenance contract that is up for renewal.

Water Department Superintendent Joe Taylor said the previous contract was awarded in 2009 and includes annual visual inspections of each tank and scheduled maintenance.

“In the past 10 years, all three have been painted,” said Taylor. “Every three years, we do a washout to improve water quality. The EPA recommends one every five years. They inspect the concrete around the foundation. They also do vandalism repainting. Someone did that to the Ashbrook tank.”

Public Service Director Matt Peoples said the city is taking a proactive approach with the trio of towers after years of reactive responses. The oldest tank in the Canal Winchester inventory dates to the 1970s.

“It’s been a very good agreement for us,” said Peoples, adding that tanks can last between 50 to 100 years, depending on maintenance.“If we had to build a new tank, it would be in excess of $2 million, so it is worth it to do the maintenance.”

Taylor said an annual EPA required Drinking Water Consumer Confidence report recently published on the city’s website includes information on what the city treats and tests for in its water supply.

The report lists data on bacteriological contaminants (all coliform samples tested negative in 2018); inorganic contaminant levels such as fluoride, lead and copper; volatile organic contaminants and residual disinfectants.

For information or to view a copy of the report, visit the city’s website and click on the water department link or contact Taylor at 614-837-5623 or online at jtaylor@canalwinchesterohio.gov.

Voltage spikes
Water Reclamation Superintendent Steve Smith said a series of non-weather related voltage spikes impacted city equipment and resulted in $8,000 in damages, not including overtime related to the events.

Around 2:30 a.m. April 22, there was a “phase failure” of unknown origin. If a phase goes under-volt—typically called a brown out—there is less damage compared with when one or more phases go over-volt, which can destroy equipment, even with phase protection devices.

“In this case, it destroyed the VFD (variable frequency drive) and burned the windings of the pump motor. The VFD had to have a new mother board and display installed, and the motor had to be removed and rebuilt,” said Smith.

On May 14 around 8 p.m., a similar condition destroyed the station controls at a pump station across from Brew Dog. Smith said there was a little rain that day, but nothing drastic.

“It is important to know that there was nothing noticeable to customers—such as flooded basements or inadequate service—due to our having backup systems,” said Smith. “But these costs impact our bottom line.”

Smith said he understands inclement weather can have consequences, but recent incidents were not related to bad weather.

The city installed new power protection equipment at all of the area pump stations at a cost of over $15,000 in an attempt to prevent such occurrences, but Smith said protection only goes so far.

“Just this last weekend (May 18-19) we experienced power outages and a similar phase failure that left us without power in various sections of the city,” Smith said. “The plant controls experienced the same phase failure, but fortunately it was not as severe and our protection equipment saved the day, though the phase imbalance lasted five hours.”

According to Smith, situations involving power spikes/outages are happening much too often. While he acknowledged power is subject to weather, Smith said the increase in incidents and their severity, even in perfectly normal weather, is of great concern.

“Typically, these things happen to power companies as they fail to adequately trim trees affecting power lines, or install pest guards in vulnerable equipment,” said Smith. “Matt Peoples is in discussions with South Central Power in an attempt to find out why we seemed to be plagued with these things so much of late.”

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