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With Support from USDA, A Michigan Town Clears the Iron from its Water

The moment of truth: USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner (fourth from right) cuts the ribbon to Williamston’s new water treatment plant with Willamston Mayor James DeForest.

The grand opening of Williamston, Michigan’s Water Treatment Plant featured an unusual beverage as its centerpiece:  Tap water. Along with a celebratory cake and other snacks, the organizers offered up large chilled containers of Williamston’s new and improved drinking water – and residents were happy to help themselves.

Drinking water quality is something often taken for granted in urban areas, but in rural communities where private wells are common and municipal systems – if they even exist – are often decades old, there is no guarantee that turning on the tap will produce something you want to drink.

USDA Rural Development provided a $4.8 million loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to upgrade the municipal water system.  The project constructed a new well, closed two wells and constructed a treatment facility to reduce radium content to safe levels.  It will serve 1,750 customers.

The new system also removes a lot of iron from the water supply, meaning residents need far less salt to soften it.  Williamston Department of Public Works Director Scott DeVries noted that the water was so clean that deposits were starting to flake off of older pipes – reversing the process that put them there. Williamston also benefitted from a $3,540,000 Recovery Act Loan to improve the waste water system.

Williamston’s new beverage of choice: Tap water from their new water treatment plant.

Approximately 100 feet of 24-inch gravity sewer has been constructed to replace the existing sewer crossing of the Red Cedar River at the wastewater treatment facility, protecting river water quality. A submersible pump station was constructed on the wastewater treatment plant site to lift the wastewater received from the Red Cedar River crossing into the preliminary treatment facility.

The project also included pumping equipment, control panel upgrades, grit equipment, return sludge pump and an effluent heat pump system. In addition, a methane gas generator was installed to reduce the heating and cooling energy costs by at least 60 percent.

The open house also included a model demonstrating how the local ground water circulates.

Williamston’s water is a lot cleaner and a lot tastier – and Rural Development is proud to have helped make it happen.

To find out how USDA’s water and environmental programs can improve your community’s water quality, click here.

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