UV water treatment plant gearing up


AUBURN — Lake Auburn’s new ultraviolet water treatment system is ready to go — once staff from both cities are trained.

Auburn Water District Superintendent John Storer said the Auburn district and the Lewiston Water Department began running water through the new treatment system last week.

“We actually ran water through the reactors, but they weren’t turned on,” Storer said. “It was a big milestone for us because there are so many controls and set points that had to be tested, including the pumping systems and all that. But it all works.”

The cities began work on the first phase of the treatment facility in 2009. That work, adding a system to disinfect fresh lake water with ultraviolet light, is finished.

Currently, Lake Auburn water flows into an intake pipe along the eastern shore. It’s treated with chlorine, and some of it is pumped to the Auburn Water District’s Court Street station, treated with ammonia and piped to the district’s customers. The rest flows to the Lewiston Main Street water station, where it’s pumped out to Lewiston’s customers.

The new facility will collect all of the water from the lake, running it through pipes ringed with high-intensity UV lamps first, before pumping in chlorine and delivering it to the two pump stations.

The UV radiation is supposed to kill most kinds of microbes — especially cryptosporidium, a type of protozoic parasite that can cause diarrhea.

Staff from both departments are being trained to operate the new equipment.

“We could turn them on any day now,” Storer said. “We just still have a bit of a learning curve to overcome.”

That first $7.7 million phase was built with federal stimulus grant money. 

“There are so many new components, and our operators need to understand how all of it works,” he said. “Then, when we get to that point, they need to understand just how it all integrates.”

Storer said the district is ready to begin work on the final phase, a $3.1 million addition. That adds a water testing laboratory and chemical treatment building to the complex. The project costs are being split evenly between the Auburn Water District and the city of Lewiston.

The second phase work could begin later this week or early next week, Storer said.

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