Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock traveled to Canton, Ohio to get a firsthand look at a state-of-the-art water treatment center Tallassee could model its water treatment facility after.
The system in Canton is a nanofiltration membrane water treatment facility. This specialized water treatment removes unwanted constituents from water using a membrane as a barrier that allows only certain substances to pass through while blocking others.
"The water actually comes out cleaner than the water in the Tallapoosa River," Hammock said.
Water treatment facilities use various types of membranes and processes to clean surface water, groundwater and wastewater to produce water for industry and for drinking.
This new technology is growing as a result of increasing concerns about contaminants in water and a decline in safe, clean, easily accessible existing water sources.
Several different types of membranes can be used to treat water, depending on the contaminants that need to be removed and the end users’ desired product water quality. The different types of membranes are described below.
Membrane filtration uses membranes to remove particles from water. The process is similar to conventional sand or media filters in that suspended solids are removed, but generally dissolved solids are not removed. Membrane filtration processes can operate under pressure or vacuum. Membrane filtration is commonly used to treat wastewater to remove bacteria and some viruses.
Furthermore, this type of water treatment facility is designed to last 50-plus years.
"It's about the longevity for the city," Hammock. "This is a large investment in our infrastructure and we want to build it the right way so that it lasts for years to come."
Ever-increasing environmental federal regulations are leading municipalities, like Tallassee, and industries to turn to membrane treatment for process solutions.
The cost of the wastewater facility in Tallassee is an estimated $4.8 million.
In late August, the Tallassee City Council voted unanimously to move forward with funding the recently mandated new water treatment facility.
This move came are years of infractions from the Alabama Department Environmental Management, which lead to a consent order to build a new wastewater treatment facility to work along with the current sewer lagoons by 2021.
With less than two years to build the new facility, funding the project became a hurdle for city officials, until April of this year when city officials received some much-anticipated news regarding a grant that would considerably offset the cost of the project.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) would be awarding a $2.4 million grant to the City of Tallassee, to make critical infrastructure upgrades and improvements needed to support the competitiveness of local business community. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 10 jobs, retain 2,059 jobs and spur $455,000 private investment.
"Infrastructure is important to the Trump Administration because it helps further propel economic advancements in our country," Ross said. "This investment in the city of Tallassee and the surrounding region will provide the tools necessary for business growth in the advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and automotive sectors."
Gov. Kay Ivey also weighed in on the subject showing approval.
"It's my mission as governor to help plant seeds for opportunity across every corner of Alabama. Enhancing infrastructure is a necessary component for future growth," Ive said. "I am grateful to the U.S. Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross for selecting Tallassee, Alabama to receive these critical enhancements. The Trump Administration clearly understands that infrastructure must be a priority to foster a thriving economy, and I am proud to support those efforts."
Alabama senators agreed this grant is good for Tallassee’s future growth.
"This $2.4 million EDA grant will play a vital role in generating growth and economic development in and around Tallassee," Sen. Richard Shelby said. "The water and wastewater system upgrades will improve the quality of life for residents and promote efficiency throughout the local business community, allowing for further expansion. I look forward to seeing the impact this grant will have on Tallassee and the surrounding region."
Sen. Doug Jones said, "Investing in infrastructure is crucial to the future success of Alabama and cities like Tallassee. This grant is a welcome investment and will allow for critical upgrades to support Tallassee's growing business community."
This project will upgrade to Tallassee's sewer collection system and construct a new, modern treatment plant to support the region's business community, including those in the advanced manufacturing, healthcare and automotive sectors. This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission. EDA funds the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.