Liberty American Water recently completed construction of a new water treatment system at the Gen Head Well Station after two years of work. Granular activated carbon treatment systems play a pivotal role in removing “forever chemicals,” microplastics, and other undesirables from the region’s water supply.
The design and construction of the treatment system took place while the area was still operated by New York American Water as the Environmental Protection Agency and state governments began permanently cracking down on chemicals that unfortunately remain endemic today. started in the year. national water supply. Liberty’s director of engineering, John Kilpatrick, explained that work began before the new regulations rolled out.
The goal of the project, which cost just under $3 million, was to remove chemical contaminants such as perfluorooctyl sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly referred to as PFO. New regulations require no more than 10 parts of chemicals per trillion gallons of water.
Kilpatrick explained that these chemicals have been present in local water systems for decades, and as awareness of the problem grows, it’s important for Liberty to stay ahead of the problem. bottom.
“They are like eternal chemicals. I believe they appear in the blood of most people in developed countries, so they don’t break easily and are very persistent,” Kilpatrick said. “New York is really moving to keep these chemicals out of our environment.”
Chemicals are removed using granular activated carbon. This is an advanced and simple process designed to remove even the tiniest traces. As water comes out of the well, it passes through four reservoirs and holds about 40,000 pounds of carbon in all.
As water flows through the vessel, chemicals attach to the carbon while purified water flows into the system. As the carbon carpet becomes more and more saturated, Liberty engineers will eventually replace it as needed.
“We set our ships in a lead-leg formation, so they go through one ship and then another processing vessel,” Kilpatrick added. If there is any level of PFO, you can always know in advance and change it, so you can always change it to ensure water returns to the unserved distribution system. It contains.”
The new system can clean approximately 2 million gallons of water per day. Liberty monitors perfluorooctyl sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid levels in water systems and sends monthly reports to the New York State Department of Health.
Kilpatrick added that project construction would have to adhere to local requirements from stakeholders and residents, and that the vessel would not be an eyesore that would spoil the aesthetics of the local community. I was.
Agatha Nadel, a Glen Head resident who has long been a leader in the fight to share our waters, appreciates the need to permanently reduce the presence of chemicals in our water supplies, but it will not be done. The fact that they are private companies has hidden costs for water district customers.
Nadel pointed out that in the private water model, all costs and expenses of such projects, including the final line of profit, must be borne by the customer. Because of this, water district customers see the cost of water bills, which she claims are already exorbitant, to cover their costs.
Nadel said this is partly because, as a private water company, Liberty cannot obtain state subsidies to offset the costs of the project.
Kilpatrick said this is what Liberty is trying to change.
Nadel argues that public water districts will focus on improving the quality of service in the district without taking extra money out of customers’ pockets.
“Anything that is done in this private waters is added to the profit and passed on to the toll payers,” Nadel explained. “It’s not coming out of their pockets. It’s coming out of ours.”
Kilpatrick confirmed this to be the case. “These water charges cover all the capital and operational expenses incurred to operate the district, maintain all the facilities we have, and build such new facilities to address new water quality regulations. It’s made up of costs,” he said. Added.