Full Steam Ahead for B.A.’s Water Plan
By EMILY RAMSEY
ACTIVE CONSTRUCTION: Jimmy Helms, left , discusses Broken Arrow’s water treatment facility and all that will be housed on its 100 acres. Behind him are two water tanks, one which currently holds the water that comes from OOWA in Pryor. Pictured at right is a view of a portion of the construction site with the treatment plant in the background and a high-tech settling basin in the foreground.
Construction of Broken Arrow’s $65 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, in July 2014—months earlier than its original completion time.
The city’s decision to construct its own water treatment facility came after years of research and was brought on partly due to the looming end date of its water contract with the Oklahoma Ordinance Works Authority ().
In 1979, the city entered into a contract with , located in Pryor, to purchase treated water. The contract will end on Dec. 31 of this year. In 2004, the City Council created the Long Range Water Supply Committee to evaluate its current water supply and determine future water source alternatives.
The committee concluded that the city should take advantage of water from the Verdigris River where the City of Broken Arrow retains water rights granted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (). This will provide the city with a substantial amount of raw, untreated water that should be available even during times of increased drought conditions. It will also provide the city with better control over its water supply.
The committee’s long-range water plan was adopted in 2006.
An additional concern of city officials was the unneeded money being spent with , says City Manager Thom Moton. “We had to purchase a set amount of water (from ), even if we didn’t need it all or use it all. This (new facility) will reduce our costs going forward because the city won’t have to pay for a specified amount of water no matter our amount of usage.”
The treatment plant, to be located at Kenosha (71st Street) and 353rd Street, will be able to treat 20-28 million gallons of water.
“Schools can’t have classes without water; healthcare facilities like St. John can’t operate without water,” Moton says. “Water is an essential resource that we need command of.”
In concert with the new plant, the committee recommended that the city negotiate a contract to purchase supplemental water from either or another secondary water source such as the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority ().
Construction on a water main from Tulsa to Broken Arrow began in October 2012 with a completion date set for late spring of this year. This water main will provide Broken Arrow residents a sufficient and adequate water supply until the treatment plant is completed.
Most recently, the city announced that, on May 15, the secondary disinfectant used to safeguard the city’s drinking water will be converted from chlorine to chloramine.
According to city officials, converting to chloramine for secondary disinfection is the next step in implementing Broken Arrow’s long-range water supply plan.
“Nearly a decade ago, our city leaders began to envision the City of Broken Arrow as a major regional water supplier,” says Kenneth Schwab, director of engineering and construction. “The use of chloramine as the secondary disinfectant proves to be the best alternative to meet this goal.” Chloramine is a proven disinfectant that has been used throughout North America for nearly 100 years and is created when a small amount of ammonia is added to chlorinated water. Chloramine is generally used in larger water distribution systems because it produces a more stable disinfectant than chlorine. This stability results in a longer-lasting residual disinfectant capable of maintaining a more effective concentration at the furthest reaches of a city’s distribution system. “The last house on the line has to have the same degree of safety as the first,” Moton says.