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What’s up with the water plant? – Olive Hill continuing forward with improvements

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Work on the new water treatment plant in Olive Hill could begin this month, according to representatives with Harshaw Trane, the contractor working on the facility as part of the city’s energy savings plan. 

Anthony Wright, who recently took over from Brandon Marcum as Harshaw Trane’s project lead, spoke with city council during their last regular meeting, explaining some slight variations between what was initially discussed and what was approved by the state, and laying out the new, post-COVID timeline for the project. 

“We do recognize there have been some very important things that have happened,” Wright told council. “I think we’ve had some important movements in the milestones of this projects timeline… (and) we do have (state approval) now.”

While they hoped to have workers on site already, the pandemic changed those plans, Wright said. 

“COVID has been a challenge for everybody,” he continued. “We’ve had to, through this process, work very, very hard to make sure we hold onto our subcontractors and others who will be doing the work.” 

Callihan, however, said he was more concerned with changes to the design and what that would mean for water employees. 

Wright explained to the city that while there have been some minor changes to the plans, as far as layout of features, there have been no changes to functionality or basic design. None of the changes that have been made, for instance, would require the city to resubmit the plans for state approval. 

One of the city’s concerns was about the clarifier. Callihan said it was his understanding that they would be getting a new clarifier for the plant, and getting rid of the existing clarifier. Wright confirmed that they would be getting a new clarifier. 

Instead of getting rid of the old clarifier completely, though, it will continue to be maintained as a redundant system while a new one is also installed. 

“I think the state appreciated seeing that redundancy,” Wright said. 

Another change is a move to direct dumpster collection of sludge in the location of the old drying bed instead of collecting that waste in the basin and pumping it over the hill to a dumpster collection. 

Another thing the water department discussed with Wright was the possibility of using a different brand and type of clarifier, instead of the clarifier currently called for in plans. That switch is unlikely, however, as it would require the city to resubmit the plans to the state for approval and stall the start date on the project. 

Regarding the changes in design layout, Wright said those were made with efficiency, safety, and ease of use in mind. 

“This particular design, I think, from an operational standpoint may be easier for you. We’re… doing some things that will help you to be able to monitor the system from inside the building, so you’re not putting yourself in an unsafe situation,” he said. 

Callihan and the water department staff also discussed backwashing and other maintenance and technical issues with Wright – including a more complete explanation of sludge collection and disposal. 

Wright said some contractors were expected to “start mobilizing” this week. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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