Water district buys $1 million portable treatment plant for perchlorate removal

SAN JOSE
– The Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors
unanimously approved Tuesday spending up to $1.05 million to buy,
install and start up a portable water treatment plant to help
remove perchlorate in water from Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy
wells.
SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors unanimously approved Tuesday spending up to $1.05 million to buy, install and start up a portable water treatment plant to help remove perchlorate in water from Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy wells.

“We’re spending this money as part of a multi-agency effort to provide residents with clean, safe water,” said Sig Sanchez, chairman of the district board of directors, referring to a coalition comprised of the district, the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy and the county.

The ion-exchange system is manufactured by Calgon Carbon Corp. and will be installed at the City of Morgan Hill’s Tennant municipal well, according to Mike DiMarco, spokesman for the water district. The Tennant Avenue well is located near Railroad Avenue, 250 feet south of the source of the perchlorate contamination, a closed Olin Corp. plant where highway safety flares were manufactured for 40 years.

The well was closed in early 2002 when its water tested above the 4 parts per billion “action level.”

According to DiMarco, the treatment plant will be installed within the next three months. Having the Tennant well back on line will help Morgan Hill provide sufficient water to residents during the summer peak demand, said Sanchez, a Gilroy resident.

“And there’s a subsequent benefit to the rest of South County in that the perchlorate we pump from up north results in that much less that can make its way south into San Martin and Gilroy,” he said.

DiMarco also said that since the treatment system is portable, when it is not needed at the Morgan Hill well it can be moved to another municipal system, possibly one of the two San Martin municipal water companies. Those systems serve water to several hundred San Martin homes and ranches.

The ion exchange method filters water from a well through tanks filled with resin beads and rids the water of perchlorate.

The Calgon system has been used successfully in Southern California to clean up a perchlorate plume left over from rocket testing at Aerojet General.

The board expects Olin Corp. to eventually reimburse the district – and taxpayers – for the cost of cleaning up the contamination. California state law requires it to do so.

Investigation of the contamination and cleanup efforts by Olin are proceeding under the direction of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board with local help from the water district.

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