By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield Utilities recently discovered several leaks in its aeration tower at its main water treatment facility on Oak Avenue in Marshfield and are in the process of installing a new tower.
The holes were found during an exterior cleaning of the tower. The aeration tower, said Water Superintendent Dave Wasserburger, helps to take hydrogen sulfide, manganese, iron, and radon out of the city’s drinking water.
The old aeration tower was disassembled and removed, and the new tower is in place but is still waiting for one more part to make it fully operational, so the city’s drinking water is currently bypassing the aeration process it would normally undergo. The new part should arrive and be installed by Friday, Oct. 16, Wasserburger said. The entire process of purchasing and installing the tower cost about $233,000.
“We have the ability to bypass (the aeration tower) and still make water here,” Wasserburger said. He later added that without the aeration tower, while the water is still safe to drink, “We’re not really doing the treatment process as good as we can with it.”
Wasserburger said the percentage of removal of items like hydrogen sulfide, manganese, iron, and radon is higher when water goes through the aeration tower.
“It’s kind of like having a car that needs a tuneup. You still drive it. It still works. The treatment plant still works, but it’s not optimal,” Wasserburger said.
Staab Construction Corporation performed the installation of the new aeration tower, and they were the original constructers of the water treatment facility.
Wasserburger said there were some anxious moments when the leak was initially discovered as 3,000 gallons per minute come through the aeration tower, and if the leaking grew worse, the whole plant could have flooded. Marshfield Utilities ultimately welded the leaks shut, and the tower continued to operate until the new tower arrived on Sept. 16.
It was likely an oxidation process from inside the aeration tower that caused the leaks, Wasserburger said.
Wasserburger added that because of the design of the treatment plant and the size of aeration towers, they had to either remove the building’s roof or break the towers into pieces to swap the old for the new. Rather than removing the roof, Marshfield Utilities took out a window and dismantled the towers to complete the replacement, which Wasserburger said saved roughly $80,000.
Wasserburger said that the new aeration tower would be paid for through bonding. He added that he hoped to get 25 years of life from the new aeration tower.