The Town of Dayton held a Ribbon Cutting & Open House for the new Water Treatment Plant on Friday, May 12th.
Not many residents may be aware of the amount of engineering that goes into being able to turn on their taps each and every day.
Likewise, only a few residents turned out to witness a ribbon cutting event held at Dayton’s new water treatment facility on Friday.
The event marked a great improvement in supplying water to the town, officials said. Mayor Cary Jackson gave a short speech about the upgrades, which took just under one year to complete.
“We have a long life ahead of us with this new water treatment plant,” Jackson said in the speech.
The previous plant had been in operation for over 20 years and could no longer keep up with the water usage demand, according to officials. The project, which was decided on by the town to provide the utility more efficiently, was approved by members of its council in September, 2021. The project cost a total of $3.5 million, an expense the town covered debt-free.
The new plant features two units that cycle well water — referred to as raw water — through a series of filters that gets pumped to a holding tank as finished water. Finished water is clean water that gets used by every home, school, church and even the Cargill processing plant within the town of Dayton.
With an upgrade in technology, the new plant can process up to 3 million gallons each day. One of the biggest differences between the new system and the old system is that the plant is now able to pretreat the water coming in with chlorine, which greatly lengthens the lifespan of the filters, officials said.
A loud humming echoed off the concrete walls during a tour of the new facility, providing evidence that the new system was hard at work. Jennifer Reppe — who has been working in water quality for five years, first with the city of Harrisonburg and now with the town of Dayton — played an important role in seeing the project through. Reppe explained that much like any equipment, a water treatment plant has a lifespan and the old units had reached the end of their service.
“Rather than replacing the filters for thousands of dollars, [it made more sense] to build a new facility that gives us the chance to work with new technology,” Reppe said. “The lifespan of this unit starts now.”
Another benefit that Reppe pointed out was that the old plant had difficulty keeping up with the demand from Cargill. In fact, some weeks the town was faced with the need to purchase water from Rockingham County because water couldn’t be filtered fast enough to keep the Dayton tanks full. The modern system has the ability to “make” more than enough water to go around and will save energy and money over the course of its lifetime, officials said.
While a microfiltration plant doesn’t need to be manned and monitored constantly, Reppe will take lead in overseeing daily operations along with Lukas Cooper who has worked as a water operator with the town of Dayton for the past four and a half years.
“I’m speechless,” Cooper said, laughing. “New projects always hit bumps in the road, but at the end of the day everything came out as planned.”
While the plant has been fully operational since February, it has taken the past few months to tie up some loose strings and get construction crews completely cleared out. Meggie Roche — economic development coordinator for Dayton — planned the ribbon cutting event in order to properly recognize the good it will do for the community.
“I’ve been particularly interested in this project, because not only will it benefit residents — it will also benefit businesses as well,” Roche said.