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Water plant needs help, state says

Staff writer

A letter from Kansas Rural Water Association says Marion’s water treatment and disinfection system needed extensive work.

Marion’s plant was built in 1963 and 1964.

Its ozone disinfection system was installed in 2005 and 2006.

Repairs on the ozone disinfection system cost the city $77,090.50 in 2021, $2,700.55 in 2020, $29,693.59 in 2019, $6,880.77 in 2018, and $12,224.89 in 2017.

“The technology is old and difficult to repair when issues arrive,” technical assistant Daryn Martin wrote.

Part of the reason it’s expensive is the difficulty in finding a technician.

“The way we understood it, there was only one technician left who was legally allowed to work on that project,” Martin said.

Martin said the technician is in high demand and his time is expensive.

Not only is the technician’s time expensive; parts are expensive as well, he said.

Other than installing a new ozone system or repairing the existing one, a chlorine dioxide system could take care of the problem, Martin said.

Martin also suggested that the city could discuss purchasing water from Hillsboro.

“That would eliminate the need for a water treatment plant and those associated costs,” Martin wrote. “However, it would include a monthly water bill for the city.

“That option would also require a large initial investment, but KDHE is usually very open to consolidation, and there would probably be funding available for that option.”

Hillsboro purifies water for Peabody at a cost of up to $3.13 per 1,000 gallons.

Purification of the first 50 million gallons — Peabody’s water allotment from the state — costs Peabody $2.68 per 1,000 gallons.

Marion water operator Jason Wheeler recently resigned to work for Hillsboro.

A city cannot simply hire someone off the street to be a water operator.

Hillsboro water and wastewater superintendent Morgan Marler said candidates for certification must meet specific criteria to be able to take certification tests.

“If you’re not working for a city, you can’t just go become certified,” Marler said.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations require a would-be certified water operator in a city of Marion’s size to have a year’s experience and meet educational requirements before taking classes to become certified.

Last modified March 16, 2022

 

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