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San Juan Water District expects to save money with new treatment process

Officials say water-treatment change leads to reduced operating costs
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San Juan Water District officials say a new treatment process to remove solids, such as dirt and organic material, from raw water will save more than $250,000 annually. The process, which was approved by the California Department of Public Health and implemented a year ago, will also increase water-treatment capacity up to 20 million gallons daily. By increasing capacity, the utility could save $20 million to $40 million in future costs by avoiding treatment plant expansions anticipated in its 30-year master plan, according to a SJWD news release. The new process means less chemicals, reduced energy use, and lower operations and personnel costs. In a conventional process, a coagulant, such as aluminum sulfate, is mixed with raw water to cause suspended solids to stick together, and become heavy and sink to the bottom of sedimentation basins for removal, or are removed by filtration. The new custom coagulant reduces solids production by more than 40 percent or about 2,000 tons annually, which allows the water treatment plant to operate more efficiently. During summer, when water demand is highest, the plant’s capacity is limited by how fast solids can be processed. The utility typically had to hire additional labor to keep up with demand. ~ Staff report