Gov. Jack Dalyrmple joined state and local officials Wednesday during a ribbon cutting ceremony and the dedication of Valley City’s new water treatment plant, which Dalrymple says produces the finest drinking water in North Dakota. The dedication was part of the “Sites Along the Sheyenne” tour, which explained why the Sheyenne River is part of the discussion on the Devils Lake crisis, hosted by the North Dakota Water Education Foundation.
Valley City needed a new water treatment plant as a result of natural wear and tear as well as a means to deal with the excess of sulfates added to the Sheyenne River from Devils Lake water.
The plant has undergone a nearly $21 million improvement over the last 18 months. It is now in full operation and is capable of providing four million gallons per day of clean, safe drinking water to the 6,500 residents of Valley City.
The new water treatment plant was built inside the old one and then expanded three times its size. Valley CIty City Administrator David Schelkoph said that the old water treatment plant previously treated the water with lime. That became an issue when Valley City started receiving water from Devils Lake outlets.
Sulfates, which can be harmful when consumed, were added to the water, and a lime system doesn’t remove them.
The new water treatment plant, which officials say is probably one of the most modern water treatment plants in the region, treats water using two different technologies. Ultrafiltration removes contaminants and reverse osmosis cleans water and removes sulfates, making it pure H20.
Together, the “quality of the water that is going to come out of this plant is second to none,” said Dalrymple.
Dalrymple said this plant has the capability to take higher sulfate levels and reduce them down to a level that is very healthy for every resident.
The conversion of the plant was made possible through state funds and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant.
State funding was provided “to manage a situation that is a problem not only in the Devils Lake basin but for people who are downstream from Devils Lake,” said Dalrymple.
“We need to be sure that we don’t have any kind of a catastrophe that would be a really serious natural disaster any where along the Sheyenne including Valley City. In order to be sure that doesn’t happen, we have to have the ability to manage the releases of water, and we soon realized in order to do that, one of the prerequisites was going to be that we had to be able to control the quality of the water for Valley City when it comes to the drinking water.” Dalrymple said.
The lead engineering firm on the project was Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services (AE2S).
Perry Johnson of Advanced Engineering said, “We were able to put this project together, bid it out and get a quality contractor, put in quality equipment and come up with I believe is close to a perfect project, coming in under budget, on time and producing a water quality that cannot be compared with.”
Dalrymple said, “We can combine (the plant’s ability to handle the increase of sulfates) with a way of managing the Sheyenne River so that one day we can all say, ‘That situation is a managed situation, it’s under control. Valley City is not in danger of any catastrophic events, and Valley City is not going to be permanently harmed in any way by the river.’”