Columbia City Council approves new water treatment group

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COLUMBIA - Columbia's City Council voted to create a water treatment planning group Monday to help the city with drinking water needs.

The city has been preparing for a new water bond to fund renovations and new projects, and it is still in the planning process to determine how much money is needed and how it will be spent.

The Drinking Water Planning Group, made up of city officials and members of the community, will focus on how money from the bond can be used to improve the quality and treatment of the city's water.

"The quality of the water needed to be paramount as opposed to only focusing on the supply," said Julie Ryan, co-founder of COMO Safe Water Coalition and a member of the planning group.

The Integrated Water Resource Planning Committee, another Water and Light group, had been working on ways to expand the Mcbaine Water Treatment Plant to meet the cities supply needs.

In January, Tad Johnson, Director of Columbia's Water and Light department, put forward the idea for a water treatment focused group to improve water quality at McBaine.

"Hopefully this group will look at what's new in technology," Ryan said. "There are regulations that are not up to where they could be in terms of the scientific research and data that's out there."

Ryan's COMO Safe Water Coalition was started in September and has looked through years of water data from the city. She says Columbia's water treatment facility is outdated and in need of renovation as well as expansion, and she hopes the Drinking Water Planning Group can address those issues.

"Our treatment plant has been called vintage, and vintage really isn't cute when you're talking about the quality of your water," Ryan said. "I've been there, I've seen what it looks like, I know what we're dealing with. And we believe that the citizens of Columbia deserve a safer quality of water."

The new water bond would assist in funding improvments for the treatment plant, which would cost about $120,000.