TUSCUMBIA — Lester Cunningham has noticed a change in his water lately.
The Tuscumbia resident often has complained about the Tuscumbia Utilities’ water quality and its “hardness,” but is pleased with what’s coming out of the faucets these days.
“I had a water softener on my faucets, but I’m not using that now,” Cunningham said. “This water is just as soft as it was when I had my water softener. It’s a lot better. That water we used to have was terrible. Sometimes the water even had an odor to it. So far, this water is doing well.”
The change happened within recent weeks as the city’s new water treatment plant has gone on line. Today, the system is completely on line and serving all of Tuscumbia Utilities’ 4,850 clients, Utilities Director David Thornton said.
“The residents I’ve talked to have really noticed a difference in the water, in it being softer,” Thornton said. “We have the best purification you can have in a treatment plant.
“Some residents have been saying they no longer have to use conditioner in their hair. We’ve also gotten good comments on the taste. They say it’s working better on their dishes, as well.”
The City Council authorized a $15.75 million bond in June 2010 for the plant at Seventh and Indian streets in Spring Park.
The plant has the capacity to produce 4 million gallons of water per day, far outpacing the old plant’s daily capacity of 2.2 million gallons, Thornton said. He said the tanks are remaining full, even at peak times.
The new plant has a modern purification system that provides “softer” water than the old plant, he said.
Mayor Bill Shoemaker said the nanofiltration system provides the cleanest water possible.
“For our part of the country, this is a new thing for water, so we feel that we’re blazing new trails,” Shoemaker said. “We’re all really proud of it.”
The plant has even caught the attention of peers in the industry, being featured in an article in the trade magazine Infrastructure Quarterly.
Shoemaker said he has noticed a difference these days.
“My eyes have always been super sensitive, and water from the shower has always burned them,” he said. “This morning, I opened my eyes when I was rinsing off and that water did not burn them.”
Thornton said customers say they no longer have to use products that eliminate lime from their silverware.
“A lot of people are having less trouble with streaking when they’re washing dishes,” he said. “Most everybody I’ve talked to is very pleased with how the water is working and the softening of the water.”
Tuscumbia slowly switched from the old plant to the new one, but the old plant now is completely off line.
Thornton said they have conducted tests at some houses that have indicated the amount of minerals in the water has been reduced from 200 parts per million to 105 ppm.
The city increased water rates by about $10 to $11 per month to help pay for the cost of the plant. Thornton pointed out some of those costs could be offset by the fact that you don’t have to spend as much time running water while doing dishes or in the shower because this water cleans faster. In fact, he said Cunningham was spending about $20 a month on water filters.
The city is holding an open house 2-4 p.m. Oct. 28, and Thornton said everyone is welcome to tour the plant.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.