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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

January 28, 2013

Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2013, at 4:41 PM

I have had several, as in two, people ask about discoloration in Malden's public water system. If two people have asked it probably means at least twenty haven't yet reached for the telephone. The discoloration is a result of sediment, primarily rust, that is dislocated when the water lines are flushed to clean them out. The resulting discoloration seems a direct contradiction of the purpose of the system flushing. I am told that opening of fire hydrants at various locations with a resulting surge in water through the lines is necessary to maintain the water system quality. I know from living in Malden all my life that variations on this practice have always been done by the Malden Board of Public Works. Flushing the water lines has been used over the years to remove sediment, alleviate the accumulation of noxious odors, check system integrity, and generally keep fresh water moving. There is a somewhat irregular schedule for flushing the system.

Problems for the general public occur when the water system is flushed without advance knowledge to residents of an affected area. If sediment is present in the water then staining or discoloration of laundry can happen. The water itself if you happen to be bathing or trying to drink it can look less than palatable. These are not minor problems if you are the one trying to use that water.

What to do about it? The BPW, as it has, for at least the last forty or fifty year's tries to notify residents in a possibly affected area. This effort usually has mixed results because there is no guaranteed way to reach everyone. However, I think we can step up the effort and try to make life a little less irritating for someone who opens their water faucet expecting clear water and gets something else. The City of Malden is in the process of trying to acquire an electronic message board in partnership with the Malden Schools and one of the many suggested uses for the message board is to post a schedule of water system maintenance.

There are two things that I would like to make perfectly clear although sometimes the water is not. First, our drinking water is absolutely safe. Malden has always been justifiably proud of our water quality as in its taste and purity. Malden's water was for many years just that, water. Nothing was added to the water until the State of Missouri recommended chlorine as a precaution several years ago. Our water supply is constantly tested for both chemical and bacterial contamination. If you receive notice of a "boil water order" it is most likely the result of erring on the side of safety. The "boil water order" that I remember happened during the 2009 ice storm. Electricity was at best an on and off proposition and our water comes from wells pumped by electrical pumps. When there was no electricity to power the pumps our water towers were emptied and not immediately replenished and there was a resulting drop in pressure in our water lines. The State of Missouri requires a minimum pressure in the lines and if that minimum is not maintained then a "boil water order" must be issued. That order was issued briefly during the electrical outage of 2009 but I had it on good authority that our water was never seriously compromised. I continued to use the water as I expect most people did but notice was given and anyone who wanted more information could have contacted the BPW.

The second point I would like to make is that the BPW is aware of issues with the water system and is committed to resolving them. The resolution of these problems just like everything in life will take time and money. Parts of the system need to be replaced but those parts must be identified which takes time. The system may need to be re-engineered which requires time for study. All the above cost money which will have to be obtained from either an increase in water rates, a bond issue, or some sort of state or federal grant. Our water system is safe and functions very well but it is not perfect. Perfection is a commendable goal and should be strived for but it is not cheap or quickly obtained.

On a not completely unrelated matter, the work on the new wastewater treatment plant is proceeding as scheduled and a change in type of pumps has resulted in a savings of more than $26,000. The change was made largely on the recommendation of our Water and Sewer Supervisor Kurt Krepps so if you are unhappy about your water quality let us know but if you see Mr. Krepps please thank him for saving us $26,000.

The financial report is as follows:

January 18, 2013Balance $1,314,853.70

Revenues $83,913.10

Expenses $21,446.06

January 25, 2013Balance $1,377,320.74


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