The Smithville Water Treatment Plant is back in operation again.
Hunter Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer for the City of Smithville says the electrical problem was resolved this afternoon with a temporary fix. "At 3:15 p.m. today we were able to restore power down here at the water plant. Our high service pumps that fill our water storage tanks are now in operation and are currently working."
"M& D electric found another "used" breaker board in Sparta and we were able to put that into our existing electrical panel. Caney Fork Electric Cooperative came down and restored the power and the pumps are now up and running. We also have a new breaker box ordered which should be here, hopefully by tomorrow (Friday), and then we'll have a brand new one in there."
Mayor Taft Hendrixson, in a brief statement, said he wants to assure the public that the problem at the water plant did not result in a crisis and that "no one even came close to running out of water. We just wanted to keep the public informed about the situation and everything is now back up and running."
Early this morning, an employee at the water plant discovered that the electrical problem prevented the pumps from operating and with no water being produced, subscribers including city and DeKalb Utility District customers were being asked to conserve.
Just before noon, Hunter Hendrixson, gave the local media an update on what happened and efforts to correct it. "The main breaker on the electrical panel that runs the pumps that sends the water out to the water tanks in the city is burned up. We've got J & S Construction Company and M & D Electric, they're in Sparta looking for a temporary "used" one we can use for right now. If not, the nearest one is in Columbus, Ohio, which we will have shipped overnight. What we may have to do is bypass that breaker to get the pumps up and going to pump water into the city."
"As of right now, the tank near the high school was right under half full and the airport tank was at half full, so it's not bad, but by the end of the day it's going to be getting to where we need to pump more water back into the system for tomorrow's use. Usage usually drops off pretty good toward five, six, and seven p.m. so if we can get through this main part of the day, I think we'll be alright."
Water Plant Supervisor Kenny Dyal, in his statement at 6:00 a.m. this morning, explained when the problem was discovered. "My employee came in this morning to start up the plant at 2:00 a.m. and discovered bad electrical problems down there. We can't pump any water."
Dyal says the issue is not with the pumps, but in the power source. "We can't get enough electricity to them (pumps) to run them. Everything down there runs on three phase, and it's single phasing."
The water plant does not have back up generators, but Dyal says in this case, that would not have solved this problem. "It wouldn't make any difference because more than likely it (problem) is inside a transformer that is inside our electrical boxes and even with a generator, you still couldn't get power to the pumps or to the motors because it's got to go through the inside controls."
Meanwhile, Alderman Tonya Sullivan, responding to today's announcement about the water plant problems, says she is not surprised. "I would like to say I'm in disbelief that the water treatment plant shut down is a surprise, but it was not a surprise. When I toured the plant and made the discoveries of inefficiencies, I brought all the findings to the forefront, but getting anything done has been like pulling teeth. I've been told that things were fine, that I'm over reacting, and that all I want to do is spend money, and that we will for sure have water no matter what. Mr. (Aaron) Meeks added in his (political) advertisements that maybe I'm pushing for a Cadillac when a Chevrolet would do."
"I think the citizens deserve clean water. They deserve water. This is not a third world country. We have citizens that depend on water. We have businesses and factories that must have water to operate. Jobs are on the line and with this tough economy, we can't afford to lose any jobs or any factories. There can be no growth in Smithville or DeKalb County until the infrastructure of this city is brought up to date."
"Employees at the water treatment plant are still not certified. We're operating with only a few people when we are understaffed. It is time to take drastic action with proper staffing and proper renovations. Some of the problems will be addressed but whatever is done today to rectify the immediate problem, I feel is only a band aid effect to the massive problems at the Smithville Water Treatment Plant."
"For two years I've been talking about trying to take action at the water treatment plant and for two years I have continuously addressed these problems. I've had evidence every step of the way, presented photos to the mayor, and all of the aldermen of the serious problems that didn't just start, but have been a long standing problem. The board that will take over July 1st is responsible for the outrageous shape of the water treatment plant, because they have refused to spend money to make needed repairs and maintain equipment as we have needed throughout the years."
"I will leave my position effective July 1st at the people's request, but I'm asking for the people to be involved and outraged at the condition of our water treatment plant. I'm asking that you be vocal and demand the city leaders to follow through with the water treatment plant renovations and not just have a band aid effect on these problems, because there are more problems to come if the money is not spent on these renovations."