The Town of Walkersville has been planning to replace its aging water treatment facility for some time. The Town’s water treatment plant is about forty years old. Last year, town leaders agreed to pursue plans for a system that utilizes reverse osmosis.
Reverse osmosis water treatment plants utilize a semi-permeable membrane to filter molecules or ions from water, and pressure to reverse the natural flow of solvents through the membrane. Many types of molecules and ions can be removed from water including bacteria.
The two recent cases of Walkersville’s water supply being contaminated influenced the decision to choose the reverse osmosis plant. During each of those events, residents were forced to boil water. After the last event, a temporary hook-up was made to Frederick County’s water system using fire houses. Businesses all through town were closed during the crisis.
During last week’s Planning Commission workshop, Planning Commission member Dick Brady asked Commissioner Russ Winch about retaining water rights on the Walkersville Watershed property. That property may be sold to the Boy Scouts. Mr. Brady suggested retaining water rights as part of the sale to provide access to water outside of the Glade Creek aquifer. The watershed lies approximately 2.5 miles from the Town of Walkersville. It previously provided water through now defunct wooden pipes.
Last night, the Burgess and Town Commissioners voted to hire Whitman, Requardt & Associates to engineer the project. While the company had the highest bid of $413,600, the Commissioners weighed the experience of the companies and the consulting of Mike Marschner, Special Projects Manager for Frederick County. The lowest bid came in at almost half of the awarded bid.
In total, the Town of Walkersville expects to spend $5,700,000 on the new water treatment plant. The reverse osmosis plant will save the town from spending nearly $170,000 per year on chemicals.