The city was required to have complied with the new standards by January 2003. Many utilities across the country are having similar compliance problems.
Danville's water source, Herrington Lake, contains a lot of organic material, such as decaying trees. The material reacts with chlorine to form trihalomethanes and haloacetic acid, two compounds that may cause cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required water utilities to immediately reduce these compounds from the drinking water and will eventually require them to be eliminated. Even with the carbon, water to Danville's furthest customers might not comply with the new rules.
The treatment alternative that City Engineer Earl Coffey and Commissioner Ryan Owens studied in Australia would cost $8 million to install. It was ruled out by commissioners.
Consultant makes recommendations
Consultant John Larue recommended that the city:
* Build a bulk bin to store carbon at the plant.
* Avoid spending money on the existing plant.
* Build a new plant.
The city's plant can produce 10 million gallons of water a day, but the consultants doubt that all that water would comply with federal standards. The capacity, they said, is more like 7.5 MGD. The state requires that when a water utility reaches 80 percent capacity it begin to plan to expand or build a new plant. At 7.5 MGD, the city is nearly at that point because it produces 5.5 MGDs during peak demand times.
Commissioners decided by consensus that Coffey needed to immediately contact Kentucky Utilities about drawing more water from Herrington Lake and inform the Bluegrass Water Consortium that the city might sell water, if it built a new plant. The consortium is a group of central Kentucky utilities that want to share water resources through shared pipes, much like a power grid.
The consortium wants to make a decision about future water suppliers and buyers by October, so it can begin to plan its grid.
Another option the consultants offered was to keep the existing plant and buy water from the consortium.
Commissioners were concerned that the city wouldn't be able to sell water as cheap as Louisville, which has offered it for $1 per 1,000 gallons. Other utilities that plan to sell water were able to offer water at $2.90.
There isn't enough room on Boone Trail to build the plant, and Larue said that a residential neighborhood was not the ideal place because of the chemicals used there. The city would have to find a new location for the plant.
Commissioners will also consider making other improvements to the tanks and pipelines that bring water to customers.
At further points of the service area water could be 30 days old before it reaches a customer, increasing the amounts of trihalomethanes and haloacetic acid.