A Look Inside the Lawrenceburg Water Plant

Larry Hazlett and Kyle Thacker

The mission statement for the Lawrenceburg Water Treatment Plant is to provide a high quality, safe, abundant, and cost effective potable water supply to the citizens of Lawrenceburg, and the people that work there take this very seriously.  They work hard to give us water that we can drink safely and enjoyably.  The team that works at the plant are committed to a high quality product.  In the words of Larry Hazlett, “We take it very seriously…actually way beyond serious.”

The process is complicated but it is constantly monitored by a team of highly qualified professionals.  The treatment plant takes water from the Kentucky River, then runs it through a variety of cleansing processes that are constantly monitored to ensure quality water.  The management team consists of the Lawrenceburg Public Works Director, Monty Rhody, the Superintendent of the Treatment Plant, Larry Hazlett, and the Assistant Supervisor, Kyle Thacker.

In addition, when the plant is running, there is always at least one Class 4 Treatment Plant Operator on site.  In order to get the Class 4 certification, you must have a minimum of 5 years experience before you are even allowed to take the test.  It is good to keep in mind that time alone does not qualify you to get the certification, but you must pass this rigorous test.

The process to create our drinking water is heavily regulated and is monitored by the state.  The plant is inspected twice a year and was just recently inspected in January and passed with flying colors.  In fact, the Kentucky Division of Water did a distribution study that was published for several states and used our plant for the study.  That tells us how highly our treatment plant is regarded.  This study produced significant positive feedback for which the plant personnel can be proud.

The plant is also in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP), a program that helps promote high standards in water treatment. This program has standards even higher than what the state sets.  Many plants do not join AWOP because they are not able to maintain the high standards required.

The attitude of the team working at the plant can best be summarized by Larry Hazlett: “We don’t want to be second best in the state, we want to be the best.”   They have won several awards, including being the best plant with under a 5 million gallons per day capacity in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The plant itself was opened in March of 2004. It is state of the art and is computer controlled.  There is always an operator in the control room monitoring the process. But that is not all. The plant is checked every hour to be sure everything is operating as it should. The water itself is tested first thing in the morning and then every two hours.  There are strict guidelines based on the Langelier Index which makes sure the water is in a proper chemical and mineral balance. The state only requires this to be done every four hours, but our plant does it every two hours.

The plant also has a micro lab.  This is important because on occasion when there is a service stoppage in the city, a boil water advisory must legally take place.  This must happen anytime there is a stoppage.  This does not mean the water is actually bad, but state regulations require the boil water advisory.  Most of us may assume this happens because a line breaks, but not necessarily.  If the fire department needs a stoppage to replace a fire hydrant, the affected area must have a boil water advisory. The micro lab can do the testing right here in Lawrenceburg and then send the results to the state to get the boil water advisory lifted.  This saves significant time.

Approximately 2.1/2.2 million gallons of water are processed every day.  The basic treatment process starts with water from the Kentucky River.  It is then pre-treated based on the condition of the water.  For example, in the summer, the water is warmer and this requires different treatments than cooler water.  Also, after a storm, the water is muddy.  The process gets rid of the mud.  Over the next 42 minutes, the water goes through a variety of filters and treatments to get the water ready for you and I to drink.  The filtering involves several steps that include the use of sand and safe chemicals that attach to impurities that can then be filtered out.  It is also monitored to ensure the water is being processed properly.

Any water that does not achieve the required cleanliness is sent to a lagoon outside the plant.  This includes water that is safe but is too cloudy.  Interestingly, that water will ultimately be returned to the river, but by regulations, it must be cleaner than the water that was taken out.

Once our drinking water has completed the cleansing, it is stored in an 800,000 gallon clear well.  It is then ready to send to you and I as safe and clear drinking water.

The plant, which is located out on Tyrone Road, is open for tours.  This is for groups or individuals.  You can just drop in, but it is preferred if you call the water department at 502-839-5372 and make an appointment.  I found it fascinating and I hope you do as well.
-Written by Don West

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