Columbia water group reviews proposal for improved filtration

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COLUMBIA – The city of Columbia is already planning to meet future water demands.

The Columbia Drinking Water Planning Work Group met Monday night to discuss proposals for increasing filtration levels and capacity.

Tom Crowley of Carollo Engineers, the firm the city has contracted for the proposed projects, said the city currently has a peak capacity of 24 million gallons per day (mgd) of water. Future projects could increase peak capacity to 32mgd and eventually 48mgd. He said these plans are to help meet future demand as Columbia's population grows.

"Infrastructure projects typically take a long time to plan, to design and to construct," Crowley said. "We're being proactive in planning for the water future of Columbia."

The group also discussed whether the city should invest in providing better water quality.

"Obviously a higher level of treatment involves a higher level of cost. And so communities have to wrestle with whether they want that higher level of treatment," Crowley said.

He said current levels of treatment do meet EPA regulatory standards.

Currently, the water is treated with chloramine. Crowley said the improved filtration system would treat the water with free chlorine.

He said free chlorine "helps during the hot months provide a level of disinfection that some people believe is superior to what you have now."

A bond issue would any major change to water filtration system's infrastructure, which would require a public referendum.

On Feb. 12, the group will host a public works meeting at the Activity and Recreation Center in Columbia.