ASHLAND Construction to replace the caps on the water filters at the water treatment plant started Monday and is expected to continue for up to a month and a half.

The facility has faced some serious hardships over the last couple years. One of the major issues that has surfaced was the buckled under-drain crisis on Filter 6. City officials said this issue almost resulted in the Ashland Water Treatment Plant being unable to produce an adequate amount of water for the city. The city hired an outside consultant to do an in-depth analysis for the plant to see what caused the issues with the buckled under-drain and how to prevent it from happening again.

“We just started,” said Bill Stambaugh, the plant’s superintendent. “... It is going at a pretty good pace. As long as we don’t hit any snags, it should take two to three weeks for each side, including anchoring. We are looking at month to a month and a half.”

Barton & Loguidice determined the buckled under-drain was caused by a surge of water and air from the company’s backwash pump. Every time this pump was turned on, the pressure did damage on the under-drains. The company recommended the water treatment plant to avoid the pressure surges coming from the backwash pump, and to start it against a closed valve to alleviate some of the pressure the surges were creating.

Ashland Water Treatment Plant has come up with a temporary solution to keep the filters from buckling again, but before the crisis, the plant was already in the process of replacing the caps on Filters 3 and 5. All the filter caps will be replaced eventually, outside of Filter 6.

“What we are trying to do with this is minimize the chances of that (another crisis) even happening,” Stambaugh said. “This should stop any of the catastrophic failures happening in the future, so we don’t have to worry about that happening.”

The plant has begun construction with Filters 3 and 5.

The plant is removing the media and gravel from Filter 3A, so it can replace it with upgraded IMS caps. The hope when replacing these is to upgrade the water treatment plant. Ideally, more water will be produced as a result.

“I think what we are doing right now is much more of a capacity issue than a quality issue,” said City Manager Mike Graese.

“Once our guys finish their part here, we have to notify the contractor to come in and secure the under-drains,” said Direcor of Utilities Mark Hall. “They have a period of time they have to respond. We are trying to give them a time in advance, so (they can plan to come to the plant) and do the work. It extends the job a little more, and that’s why this is such a long, drawn-out process.”

The plant is currently designed to produce 24 million gallons of water, but right now they are only putting out 10 million. The city has been encouraged by the state to do a water capacity study to determine the plant’s full capacity, but have requested to wait until the upgrades are made on Filter 3. They are waiting for a response.

The plant is looking at up to a year before all the upgrades are made to every filter.