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Zebra mussels an 'urgent' issue at water plant

Council emphasizes support of swimming pool staff

Staff writer

Hillsboro City Council approved a study Tuesday of how to solve an issue with zebra mussels getting into the city’s water treatment plant.

In the three weeks between the council’s June 7 and Tuesday’s meetings, invasive zebra mussels have become more of a problem at the city’s water treatment plant, said Morgan Marler, water treatment plant supervisor.

Workers are having to remove a substantial number — three 5-gallon buckets full every two to three days — of the mollusks at the pump house, she said. Removing them by hand is a labor-intense process and not a long-term solution, Marler told the council.

If the city didn’t do something to solve the problem with zebra mussels, the alternative would be to find and develop other water sources for the city, Marler said.

With that in mind, the council approved a pilot study by EnvirOzone Systems Corp. to determine whether ozone can prevent the mussels from entering the system. Zebra mussels are a problem because they multiply rapidly enough that they can clog intake pipes and grates.

The study would cost $25,000, and Marion would share the cost. The six-month study will be done in a lab to provide controlled conditions. If the study shows the plan can work, implementing it at the water intake at Marion Reservoir will probably cost between $200,000 and $300,000, said Don Heller of engineering firm EBH & Associates.

Approving the study does not obligate the city to implement the ozone treatment, even if the study shows it can work.

Council puts pool safety policy in hands of staff

The staff of Hillsboro Family Aquatics Center requested the council approve a pair of rule changes for the pool relating to patron safety.

One of the changes would require day care providers have one responsible adult, 16-years-old or older, for every three children younger than 8. The pool already has that rule in place, but one or more patrons have challenged it on the basis it wasn’t created by the city council.

The other requested change would require patrons 3 feet, 10 inches or shorter to wear a life jacket to swim in deeper areas of the pool unless they pass a test of swimming ability.

“It’s sad that we even have to make a rule,” council member Shelby Dirks said.

Council member Marlene Fast agreed. She said the council should leave the rules of the pool up to its lifeguards and professional managers.

City Administrator Larry Paine said the council could set a policy giving pool staff authority to set safety rules. When all of the council members present agreed that was a good idea, Paine said he would prepare a policy for the next council meeting, Tuesday.

To provide support in the interim, the council approved a statement that the council supports the authority of the pool staff to set safety policies.

In other business:

  • An ordinance was approved to repeal an ordinance approved in March that would have allowed liquor sales on Sundays. At the June 7 meeting, the council received a qualified petition that required either repealing the ordinance or having a special election on it.
  • Wildcat Construction of Wichita will replace sewer line pump stations and add ozone injectors to reduce odor, with a bid of about $379,000. Reynolds In-liner of Colorado will install cured-in-place sewer pipe liners for $523,650. Both companies were the low bidders for their projects. Contract awards were made contingent on approval by the Rural Development Administration.
  • Darrin Neufeld of engineering firm EBH & Associates discussed upcoming street repair projects. He said he expects the alternate bid for a concrete street on Adams Street will be competitive with asphalt. He said he plans to meet with the council again on Tuesday, when they have a closed session to discuss property acquisition on Adams Street.

The next scheduled council meeting will be 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Last modified June 29, 2011

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