Then and Now: History Edition
Press & Dakotan

Then and Now: History Edition


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    PAGE 12B: THEN & NOW PRESS & DAKOTAN n MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 Work is under way on Yankton s new water plant expansion. The project is expected to be completed in 2020. (Kelly Hertz/P&D) Water Working Dual Water Plants Diligently Serve Yankton, But Some Big Changes Are In Store To Ensure Future Service BY ROB NIELSEN Y ankton may sit on the edge of a major river, but it s never been so cut and dry when it comes to getting that water to the citizens of Yankton in drinkable and usable form. That task has fallen to two water treatment facilities built in 1929 and 1972, respectively on the river s edge, and the people and evolving technology that keep them running. The Press & Dakotan sat down with former city utilities manger (1987-2005) Rodger Harts and current environmental services director Kyle Goodmanson to discuss the city s history of water treatment and the ongoing challenges both natural and man-made of making the city s water safe. BEGINNINGS One of the first municipal water sources came in the form of an artesian well between Maple St. and Green St. There was a little building to the north of it that had the pumps in it, Harts said. They used to pump it to a water tower between two houses in Westside Park. I think it was about 300,000 gallons. That was the only tower that Yankton had. Didn t treat nothing just pumped it directly in there. This practice continued into the 1920s when the community decided to go in a different direction, Harts said. The forefathers decided that the water was too hard and they needed to treat it, so they moved to the river and built the (1929) plant, he said. THE 1929 PLANT Opened in 1929, the city s first water treatment plant sits next to the present-day Discovery Bridge. The plant originally had 300,000 gallons of capacity when it first opened and utilized a rotary mixer. In the 1950s, with Yankton growing and need increasing, the city added three additional filters, Mill From Page 11B charged $20 a beer. But that wasn t going to happen, he said. It could have cost us a ton of money. Instead, we took it in moderate steps that were feasible. We did it in pieces, adapting it many times. Lowrie credited the work of Larry s Heating and Cooling of Yankton for developing an economical and practical plan for the Old Mill s needs. I asked Larry s if they could replaced the mixers and boosted capacity to 3 million gallons. But as with the old well, the water needs of the community continued to grow, and by the 1960s, officials were looking at building an additional plant. At that point, 3 million gallons was probably borderline capacity for what we were using in Yankton, Harts said. As a result, the city built a new plant that opened in 1972. However, that didn t mean the old plant was thrown to the wayside. Up until (the 1970s), it was all hand-operated, Harts said. You d have to go to each machine to start it. We then updated it to run off of a computer so you could just come in and start the plant from one room. THE 1972 PLANT A new water plant with the capacity to treat an additional 5 million gallons was opened in 1972 on the western edge of Riverside Park. Goodmanson said the two plants run on generally the same principal except the 72 plant was able to operate in a manner that wouldn t have been possible with its predecessor. They re both lime-softening (operations), it s just done with a little different equipment, he said. Of course, the 72 has a few upgrades. It s all automated versus the 29 plant. For instance, the 29 plant will not start automatically; someone has to come in and manually push the button and start it up. The 72 plant will start up automatically based off of level readings. The principles behind the treatment are the same, it s just a little bit newer technology. In addition to their production capacity, both plants currently have 2.3 million gallons of additional storage in underground tanks between the two buildings. This is in addition to two 1 million gallon water towers near Mount Marty College and in Fantle Memorial Park. KELLY HERTZ/P&D Yankton s 1929 water plant sits nestled along the riverbank near Discovery Bridge at the south edge of Yankton. Once the new water plant is completed in 2020, plans call for the 1929 plant to be decommissioned and its 300,000-gallon water tank removed from service. I think it s actually going to get to the point where we re going to take everything out of the water and add back in what s good. I think that s where the industry is going to go. Things like iron, that s good to have in your water; it s not going to hurt you, it s something your body needs. We re going to be taking all of that out with the membranes. CHALLENGES Just because the water plants sit along the Missouri River doesn t mean it s an easy task getting that water to the Yankton consumers. Harts said the river presented a host of challenges to the 1929 plant, especially in the 1950s. We built a pump house out here that took it directly out of the river, Harts said. Then it got to the point where we needed more raw water capacity, so we built a pump house on the southwest side of the building. Well, then it got to the point where the water table went down on the river and that pump house became no pump house. We had to extend the intakes out, put different pumps in so we could use it. The one that was built in the 50s was extended out because they were also coming out of the water, so we were getting to the point where we really had to struggle to get water to the plant. Not all challenges to water treatment have been physical, according to Goodmanson. I think (the EPA has) gone too far with some stuff, he said. come up with something, and they were awesome, he said. The Old Mill atmosphere allows its patrons to get away from it all without traveling a long distance, Lowrie said. Everyone wants to see somewhere else in the world. They re never satisfied. They want what they see on TV, he said. My vision is that you can come to the Old Mill and feel at ease. I want you to feel as if you left Yankton, but you re still in your own backyard. We let you have a nice stay-cation right here. Lowrie sees the Old Mill and The Landing as a win-win venture not only for the Gurney Development Group but also for Yankton and the surrounding region. This project consists of hundreds of thousands of dollars in historic preservation that benefits the community, he said. We re creating vibrancy for Yankton s riverfront. We re putting our energy back into the property. It s our gift to the community. As a springboard from the Halloween debut, the Old Mill has hosted St. Patrick s Day and Mardi Gras events. For St. Patrick s Day, we had an Irish band, and the place was lit up in green, he said. We understand what s exciting to people. You can tell if people are enjoying themselves by how long they hang out here. The Old Mill isn t just for holidays, Lowrie said. We ve had dueling pianos, weddings, comedy shows, artists, album releases and parties. We re doing fun things, he said. We re also hosting the Simply D Vine event in October. That should be a good time. The Old Mill is blessed to have additional space later added to the structure, Lowrie said. People ask about the 1930s addition, he said. The building on ANOTHER UPGRADE Major changes are currently under way at the 1972 facility. Construction crews have been hard at work since the spring to expand the 72 facility, which will include boosting treatment capacity to 8 million gallons and change the process entirely. The 72 plant is a lime-softening plant, Goodmanson said. The new plant that we re putting in will be a membrane plant. Rather than adding the chemicals and coagulation to remove sediments and things, it s kind of like pushing the water through a coffee filter we ll be cleaning the water with membranes. It actually cleans the water better than the conventional treatment. He added that this will be helpful in the long run. The membranes set us up to meet future regulations, he said. Goodmanson said the new collector well that will feed the new plant will not face the same issues with a dropping river level since it takes in water from underneath the riverbed. In theory, it should be a 100year fix, he said. Following completion of the new addition in 2020, the 1929 plant will be shut down, and the 300,000-gallon underground storage tank built in 1929 will be removed from service. Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter. the south side is what makes this (structure) much more relevant. And we can do things with it that we can t do with the 1872 section. It s all about thinking outside the box, Lowrie said, much as he did when looking at the Austin, Texas, bar. What can we do with (our building) that hasn t been done before? he asked. Lowrie thinks he s found the answer, even if it takes a little more time. People want authentic, and this is as authentic as it gets, he said. Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.
    Water Working