Water Supply Solutions for Small Systems – Assessing the World of Options
- Aaron Duke PE, BCEE - Hazen and Sawyer
- Kinsey Downes PE
- Colleen Rizzi PE
As our economy recovers and development is reinvigorated, new small community water systems are beginning to spring up across the country. Water supply and treatment challenges are nothing new to our community water supplies, but when these challenges occur in small systems, they have a much greater impact. The water supplies available to these small community systems are much more susceptible to impacts, whether they be drought or water quality related. These systems also have more limited resources to address supply and treatment challenges, with costs of corrective actions spread across a much smaller customer base.
Loudoun Water operates 39 such small, community water and wastewater systems and is very familiar with the challenges faced in operating these types of community treatment facilities. Recently, water supply challenges arose at two neighboring groundwater systems related to potential groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) concerns. One of the existing groundwater wells was confirmed to be GUDI, and the geology at both systems was such that there was a high likelihood that the remaining wells would become GUDI in the very near future. This prompted a holistic evaluation of source of supply and treatment options, ranging from interconnecting the two systems and drilling new groundwater wells to reaching out to neighboring surface water supplies to install a pipeline that could serve the small communities from the larger neighbor.
The various scenarios evaluated each had their own unique treatment challenges to be overcome. For example, the combining of the two systems and reliance on existing wells would require filtration treatment to be installed, which would involve new capital construction and the potential for increased operator time at the facility. Likewise, the surface water option carried with it a concern over DBP formation due to the long pipeline length to connect the two communities to the larger surface water system. One of the communities is adjacent to a golf course, so the application of herbicides and pesticides and potential occurrence in the groundwater also had to be addressed with the community.
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