West Jeff project finally starts

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 Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer
Attending the groundbreaking for West Jefferson’s reverse osmosis water treatment system were: (from left) Khisha Fallon from Sen. George Voinovich’s office, Rob Nichols from Rep. Deborah Pryce’s office, Army Capt. Ramon Mejia of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, West Jefferson Public Service Director Harold Walker, West Jefferson Mayor Thomas Phillips, and Theresa Gordon from Ohio EPA.

Dirt flew Aug. 8 at a groundbreaking ceremony for West Jefferson’s long-awaited reverse osmosis water treatment system.

“I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally get this project under way,” said Harold Walker, West Jefferson’s public service director. Earthmoving equipment was scheduled to be at the site on Taylor-Blair Road as early as mid-week.

The reverse osmosis system will use a membrane filter to soften water, replacing the existing system, which uses salt. When the new system is up and running next year, water flowing to residential taps will be almost sodium free, Walker said.

Discussions about the reverse osmosis system began in August 2002. The cost, including upgrades to the water treatment plant, will be $3.2 million. About $750,000 of a $1 million federal grant received by the village last fall will go toward paying off the cost.

The grant’s other $250,000 will go to the Army Corps of Engineers for administrative costs. The village applied for a 2.75 percent Water Supply Revolving Loan Account through the EPA two months ago to fund the additional construction expenses.

Kirk Brothers Co. out of Findlay, Ohio, won the bid for the project and has 200 days to construct the reverse osmosis building and get the equipment installed.

“We’re pretty much building a brand new water treatment plant with this project. We’re building a new building (for the reverse osmosis system) and updating the older, outdated equipment in our current building,” Walker said.

If weather cooperates, the reverse osmosis system should be up and running prior to the July 2008 deadline.

“Once the building goes up, all of the rest of the work is inside to finish the system,” Walker said.

“Our residents have waited a long time for this and now it’s time to get this up and going. The quality of water we will be supplying to our residents will be coming from the Cadillac of water systems when it is completed.”

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