Committee okays contract for phase one of reverse osmosis water treatment facility project

Thursday, Mar. 2, 2023–11:43 a.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

Work on Rome’s reverse osmosis water treatment facility is another step closer to getting underway.

On Thursday, the water and sewer committee voted to recommend approval of a $585,000 contract for phase one of the project with Archer Western as the construction manager at risk. Phase one will include the development of a guaranteed maximum price, which should be known in July or August.

Bryan Pate with Insite Engineering (center) is working with the City of Rome on its new reverse osmosis water treatment facility.

Rome began the process of converting its raw water intake filtering facility for “reverse osmosis” treatment in 2016 following health advisories issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding PFAS.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are widely used to make carpets and other items stain resistant. The chemicals have been linked to numerous adverse health impacts and break down very slowly, so they persist in the environment for a long time.

To pay for the project, the city has implemented the first phase of a multi-year rate increase for water customers. In the meantime, water intake has been moved from the Oostanaula River to the Etowah River.

Bryan Pate with Insite Engineering commended the city during Thursday’s meeting for being ahead of the curve, especially with the EPA set to release a new draft regulation pertaining to PFAS.

“To put it into perspective, the 2016 health advisory was 70 parts per trillion for these compounds,” he said. “We expect the MCL draft to come out at four parts per trillion, which is the minimum detection level for the EPA’s testing technology. We expect it to be a very difficult regulation to comply with unless you are doing exactly what you guys are doing. I would say you are years ahead of many other water systems, who are going to be shocked when the regulations come out.”

An artist rendering of the new reverse osmosis water treatment facility was shared during Thursday’s Rome Water and Sewer Committee meeting.

Pate’s firm engineered a similar facility on the Tennessee River. He said that it has been non-detect for 49 PFAS chemicals since it came online in May of 2021.

“That’s exactly the same technology that we’re implementing here,” he said.

The reverse osmosis facility was originally planned for the current water treatment site on Blossom Hill. However, it was determined that it would be less risky and expensive to locate the facility behind the Department of Family and Children Services building on Riverside Parkway.

Pate told the committee that Archer Western, which is based just northwest of Atlanta, was unanimously selected by a six-member committee that reviewed and scored the proposals that were submitted for the project.

The Rome City Commission will have the final say on the contract as the vote by the water and sewer committee is only a recommendation.

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