TPU monitoring chlorine usage for city water amid shortage caused by regional supplier – KIRO 7 News Seattle

PIERCE COUNTY, Washington – Just when you thought supply chain disruptions were something left behind in 2020, think again.

Friday, Tacoma Public Utilities released an update on steps taken to conserve chlorine use to treat water after an electrical problem halted production at the Westlake Chemical Plant in Longview.

According to TPU:

“Earlier this week, Tacoma Public Utilities and our partners, including Seattle Public Utilities, the City of Everett and the Department of Health, were made aware of a situation temporarily affecting the supply of gaseous chlorine, sodium hypochlorite, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda to drink. water and wastewater utilities throughout Washington.

Chlorine gas and sodium hypochlorite are used in drinking water treatment processes for disinfection.

The supply chain disruption “is the result of the loss of a primary electrical transformer, which temporarily halted production at the chemical manufacturing plant in Longview.”

Production at the plant is expected to resume anytime between June 25 and 28, according to various reports.

TPU noted that it has enough chlorine to last over 30 days.

In addition, “we have reduced the amount of chlorine used for treatment while maintaining the safety levels required to maintain our chlorine supply. “

The utility also noted that it was supplementing the Green River water supply “with our groundwater wells from the Tacoma underground aquifer which does not depend on chlorine from this supplier to maintain the quality of the water. potable water”.

Craig Downs, the operations manager of TPU’s water supply and filtration plant, told the News Tribune in a telephone interview on Friday that the groundwater system is capable of generating its own chlorine.

“We have the ability to tap our South Tacoma groundwater resources, which has a separate chlorine generation system, so that we can actually produce the chlorine for these wells on-site, and don’t depend on those wells. suppliers. We activated that well field, and today we actually increased it to 25 million gallons of production per day.

The wells were last extensively used in 2015 during that year’s drought.

Chlorine generation and other modifications, he noted, should keep Tacoma in good shape.

“We changed our chlorine dose to try and expand that supply further. … We should have enough supply to last until the supply chain returns to normal, ”he said.

He added that “at this point there is no specific customer demand, but we still encourage our customers to use their water wisely. “

Rebekah Anderson, Media Representative for the Public Service, told the News Tribune via email that “We are constantly monitoring residual chlorine both at the processing plants as well as at several locations in our distribution system. We also collect approximately 40 to 50 samples of coliform bacteria throughout the distribution system each week, and chlorine residue is collected with these samples. These are sent to a certified laboratory for analysis.

The shortage affects the regions water suppliers in Washington and Oregon, with some municipalities warning of possible future boil-water orders and calling for conservation now.

While no water restrictions are in place for customers, “if customers want to know what they can do, less water use would help expand our chlorine supply,” TPU said in its article. .

A separate shortage of chlorine tablets, the result of a chemical fire in a Louisiana factory last August, has led to pool closures scattered across the country and frustrated pool owners, including those who added new residential pools during the pandemic.

When the Longview outage happened, according to Downs, “the supply chain in this market was already strained, because of that, so I have to say that because of the other things that happened, it didn’t. probably didn’t help the situation. “

“Our main supplier of chlorine chemicals… this plant is their main supplier. They have other suppliers and have been able to get raw materials and continue limited production, but due to the nationwide shortage everyone is running out of steam so there is not an abundance of these raw materials for everyone, ”Downs said.

“We were able to get limited deliveries, even just yesterday. So there is a product that exists in the industry, ”he noted.

State officials also released a statement regarding the regional shortage on Friday evening.

“We assure you that there is no immediate impact on drinking water in Washington,” said Lauren Jenks, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Public Health for Washington State. “We will continue to monitor and communicate updates as they occur.”

Puyallup Town Water Division Supervisor Craig Hale told The News Tribune via email in response to questions that the town’s system was also in good shape on Saturday.

“The town of Puyallup has a 60- to 90-day chlorine supply, depending on demand,” Hale wrote.

The city can also access 2.5 million gallons per day through Tacoma if needed. “We are not implementing rationing at this time and we are not planning any boiling water restrictions,” Hale wrote.

This story was originally posted by The News Tribune.

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