East Lansing-Meridian Water and Sewer Authority Water Treatment Plant Feature
Leftover water is sent to the reservoirs where it's eventually pumped back into the water plant. Photo by Kayleigh Garrison.
EAST LANSING - The East Lansing-Meridian Water and Sewer Authority water treatment plant may be guarded by a gate, but it plays an important role in the lives of East Lansing and Meridian Township residents every day. It distributes a little over two billion gallons of water every year and over six million gallons a day to residents to be used for cooking, bathing, drinking and the like.
The two communities originally had two separate operating water treatment plants but combined in 1974 to save money and improve water quality.
"Compared to a small town, this is a superior water quality, being that it's softened and treated," said Maintenance Planner Joel Martinez. "It's not to say that it's any safer; every water system in the state is regulated at a very high level to ensure safety, but this is a complete treatment plant which gives us quality aesthetics. This is considered an F1 treatment plant, which is the highest level of treatment in the state in a complete treatment system."
Distributing water is a four-step process.
The process starts when water is extracted from the 29 wells located throughout East Lansing and Meridian Township. Water enters the primary clarifier where it contacts lime which softens the water. Calcium and magnesium are removed from the water before it travels to the secondary clarifier where most of the cleaning takes place. Chloride is added for disinfection and fluoride is added for dental health. In this stage, any particles present in the water are removed. The water then travels from the secondary clarifier to the filter room where it is filtered to its clearest point before being distributed to residents.
The East Lansing-Meridian Water and Sewer Authority is adamant in preventing water contamination and ensuring residents receive clean water every day.
"We do a lot of testing," said Manager Clyde Dugan. "We have quite a few regulatory parameters that we have to comply with. We run water tests every shift, all day. We also run a number of parameters on various frequencies to comply with state regulations to make sure we provide safe drinking water."
Dugan said that part of the treatment plant's operating budget is set aside to ensure it has enough money to maintain all equipment and keep it in operating condition "so that we’re always capable of putting out safe drinking water to the communities."
The water treatment plant is technologically advanced and uses a system called SCADA, which stands for supervisory control and data acquisition, to track the levels of the water towers located in both communities.
Martinez said the numbers on the SCADA system are constantly changing.
"We have a real-time response on anything that's happening," Martinez said.
Martinez said that people have accused the water treatment plant of wasting water due to continuously running water all day and every day while performing water tests. However, he said it's a minimal waste process because leftover water is sent to the reservoirs behind the building where it is eventually pumped back into the water treatment plant.
"If anything, we try to be conservatives of water here," Martinez said.