Not since 1999 has Walnutport seen a new water filtration system added to its "water arsenal." But all of that changed at 11 a.m. June 12, when the new Heimbach Filtration Plant was dedicated and officially went online.
At the small plant located on Alder Drive, just north of Kmart, Water Authority Chairman Ron Kuntz opened the ceremony by introducing some of the key players in the decadelong project and giving a basic overview of what the plant accomplishes.
It was noted that engineers Spotts, Stevens and McCoy handled the design and permitting of the plant; Kershner Environmental Technologies sold the filtration equipment, manufactured by Separmatic Systems, to the contractor; and Bellview Pumps actually built the building and installed the equipment.
Kuntz added that Walnutport serves about 1,000 water customers in both the borough and parts of Lehigh Township, who generally use about 175,000 gallons per day.
After adding this plant, the amount capable per day is now at least 200,000 gallons of treated water, he said, "so we now have plenty of water."
To put the plant in layman's terms, authority engineer Jason Newhard said, "What you're looking at is basically a giant pool filter."
John Tremblay, district representative for Kershner, said that the plant uses the same diatomaceous earth media as has been used in pool filters for the past three or four decades, just on a much larger scale, to filter out particulates and some bacteria, then just enough chlorine is added to kill off any other existing bacteria.
"It is important to have this plant online because the water system is vulnerable to droughts and other emergencies, such as fires, where the storage depletion would be enough that the existing sources would not be able to make the water up quickly enough," Newhard said.
"With this filtration plant, (the authority) will be able to augment and pretty much guarantee they'll have enough water throughout emergencies and droughts."
In fact, the Heimbach Quarry, as it was once called, had a well that was a water source for decades for just such purposes.
However, as drinking water regulations became more stringent, pumping from it was stopped in 1998.
"I think what we've done here is plan for far into the future," Kuntz said of the plant.
"And like we say, 'Water is something they don't make (any more of)," Kuntz said.
"Our area has a room for a lot of development, should that occur, so it's important that you're prepared for that future, and I feel we are."