Water treatment plant taking shape along Hess Road

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Motorists driving along the western extension of Hess Road have likely noticed a flurry of construction activity near Rueter-Hess Reservoir.

The Parker Water and Sanitation District is one year into construction of a $50 million water treatment plant that’s expected to open in the first part of 2015. Beginning in August 2012, crews installed pipelines and other infrastructure and heavily graded the land. Now, they are finishing the foundation, reinforcing the structure with rebar and putting in place key components to the treatment process. By November, passersby will see masonry work and a steel frame over the plant.

The finished product will occupy nearly an acre of land and contain some of the most high-tech filtration equipment in the world. Representatives from the Parker Water and Sanitation District have traveled to Japan and France to view state-of-the-art systems in operation.

The district has honed in on what it believes are the most efficient active-flow processes, backwash cycles and chemical processes, among many other steps in the quest to produce potable water.

“There’s a tremendous amount of chemistry involved,” said James Roche, operations manager for the PWSD.

Six ceramic membrane filters — at a cost of $1.2 million each — were shipped in from Japan and sit guarded under a wooden frame and heavy-duty shrink wrap. The rest of the building must be constructed around them. The components are costly, but durable, and there is intent to spend the necessary money now so the plant is well prepared for the long haul. It will eventually have the capacity to churn out 40 million gallons of water per day to meet peak summer demands.

Building to spec is a must with such an intricate project. There are so many moving pieces and logistics to consider that Doug Voss, project superintendent for Weaver General Construction, finds himself thinking about them in church.

“I’m thinking of the whole picture. I have to keep in perspective where we’re at and where we’re going,” he said. “Just like the reservoir or any other project, I have to look six months to a year ahead of time so we don’t run into a dead end.”

Voss admits that he has help on the ground; two supervisors make sure the structure is being built according to design by the 80 workers now on the site. When asked whether he gets any time off, Voss, who oversaw the six-year-long construction of Rueter-Hess Reservoir and Dam, says he has passed up on six weeks of vacation over the last two years

“I’m not going to give them any time this year. They’ll have to do without me,” he says with a laugh.

The $50 million treatment plant, funded through a revenue bond approved by the PWSD board in 2010, will undergo three expansions in later decades. When it opens, presumably in early 2015, it will be capable of producing 10 million gallons of water from Rueter-Hess Reservoir each day and take pressure off the wells throughout the district that pump out groundwater from vanishing aquifers.

Voss isn’t cutting any corners and will take as much time as needed to make sure the final product does exactly what it’s supposed to.

“It’ll take time to make sure the process is flawless,” he says. “We’ll be running practice cycles until we are sure we have a good process.”