July 4, 2009

Don Cope: Managing our water system

This is our fourth article in a series about the operations of Dalton Utilities. In today’s article, we will discuss the concept of watershed management. Watershed management encompasses all of the issues which impact water quantity and quality — which include water (supply, treatment and distribution); wastewater (collection and treatment); and stormwater management (erosion control). Much like a three-legged stool that cannot balance or remain upright if one of the legs is removed, each of these three areas — water treatment, wastewater management and stormwater management — operate in concert with the other two to impact both water quantity or quality.

We in the Dalton metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties, are dependent upon the Conasauga River for many reasons. It is our primary water source and, as the largest permitted water utility in Northwest Georgia, Dalton Utilities is charged with protecting and managing the issues that impact the Conasauga watershed.

Dalton Utilities, because of our numerous large industrial users, holds water withdrawal permits which exceed 67 million gallons per day. These permits make the utility the third largest water withdrawal permit holder in the state of Georgia exclusive of electrical generating power plant cooling water permits.

We operate three water treatment plants, the smallest being Freeman Springs which treats spring water in the west side of Whitfield County. Our second largest plant is the Mill Creek Treatment Plant which is located near the Crown Mill complex. Dalton Utilities’ oldest facility, the Mill Creek plant, was recently overhauled to meet new regulatory requirements and to discontinue the use of gaseous chlorine, a hazardous material. This plant utilizes modern membrane filtration technology and has improved water quality while reducing the amount of chemicals needed to properly treat the water. Our largest plant is the V.D. Parrott Jr. Treatment Plant, located in the Dawnville community along the Conasauga River. Because of new regulatory requirements, this plant will require a major overhaul in the next several years.

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