Big Springs water source shut down for repair

By Julie Fann
Star Staff

Monday morning, the city shut down Big Springs water source, one of three sources that supply water to a 75 square-mile region, for repairs to its filter system. City officials say the source could be closed for up to one week but that most consumers won't notice any effects.
   "As long as people conserve (water), and we'll be having people working around the clock to make every effort to regulate the water, I don't anticipate that we will really have a significant loss in water pressure," said Teresa Nidiffer, Chief Water Plant Operator for the city.
   The city is replacing the material, called "media," that exists inside two filters that help make the water safe for consumers. Since the water source was built in 1981, the "media" have not been replaced.
   "We are just now replacing the media, which is extremely good that it's lasted this long," Nidiffer said. Nidiffer explained that replacing "media" is not as time-consuming as cleaning up afterward. Because of that, Nidiffer expects Big Springs to be closed until the 15th or 16th of the month.
   However, Leger thinks the work can be completed much sooner. "Fortunately, the schedule to date looks like we're going to do much better than what we gave ourselves. They did (clean) one cell (filter section) in two and a half hours, so if they keep working at that rate, they'll have one of the cells done today. They may have the whole thing done today," he said, though he didn't want to get anyone's hopes up.
   Since water travels downward, and most residents live below the Big Springs water tanks, most people won't notice a change in their water pressure. Ted Leger, Public Works Director for the city, explained that those most likely to be affected live in higher elevations. "There are some cases where people have chosen to live very high in relation to our highest elevated tanks, so the potential is there," he said. Leger said that residents who have problems "know who they are" because they have had problems in the past.
   Continued rainfall is the only other factor that poses a threat to getting Big Springs running again. Rain water causes turbidity, or murky ground water, that serves as an indicator that bacteria may be present in the water supply.
   Sources located in Valley Forge, Hampton and Big Springs provide Carter County's water supply.