Water quality

Ethan Holman, Billy Burgan and Ron Sellman were present during an August Gainesville City Council meeting for recognition of an award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The city of Gainesville’s water treatment plant off Farm-to-Market Road 1202 has received a nine-year recognition award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The Texas Optimization Program Recognition Award was presented in July to the City of Gainesville Water Treatment plant, 209 N. Lake Lane, officials said.

To receive a TOP Recognition Award, a plant must continuously meet all the following criteria for 12 consecutive months, according to Brian McGovern, a TCEQ spokesman:

none of the filtered water turbidity readings from any of the filters can be above 0.5 NTU;

at least 99% of the filtered water turbidity readings from each individual filter (i.e., the total number of readings from each individual filter) must have a turbidity of 0.3 NTU or less;

at least 90% of the filtered water turbidity readings from each individual filter must have a turbidity of 0.1 NTU or less;

at least 95% of the total number of filtered water turbidity readings (i.e., the total number of readings from all of the individual filters) must have a turbidity of 0.1 NTU or less;

the filtered water turbidity must not exceed 0.3 NTU during post-backwash turbidity spikes; and

the filtered water turbidity level must drop to 0.1 NTU or lower within 30 minutes of returning a filter to service after it is backwashed.

Turbidity is a measure of how clear water is. Low-turbidity water is very clear, like drinking water, according to information from the U.S. Geological Survey. High turbidity means water is cloudy or opaque.

In addition to the Gainesville plant, surface water treatment facilities in Dallas, Denton, Lewisville, Victoria, Benbrook and Wylie have received recognition this year.

McGovern said the Texas Optimization Program is voluntary. There are 21 surface water treatment plants participating in the program, he said.

The TCEQ TOP recognition program began in January 1998, McGovern said. The city of Gainesville joined the program in September 2007.

McGovern said surface water treatment plants can only receive time credit in the program when the facility is in operation and meeting the program criteria.

“The city of Gainesville surface water treatment plant is operated intermittently, and received nine years of program credit in July of 2019,” he said.

Gainesville Public Works Director Ron Sellman said the plant has been recognized every six months for the past nine years.

“You could get the same TOP award two times in one year,” Sellman said.

Historically, the TCEQ program recognized surface water treatment plants with certificates marking each six months of continued performance. This year, the program transitioned to annual certificates, according to McGovern.

“Out of all the water systems, there aren’t very many who can achieve this level of treatment consistently,” Sellman said.

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