Annual Air Stripper Cleaning Saves Money for Bellefontaine, Ohio

The water treatment plant for the City of Bellefontaine, Ohio serves 5,300 customers with an average water production of 2.0 MGD. During summer months, when water is in high demand, the WTP can produce a maximum of 4.0 MGD. The facility is equipped with three air stripping towers and four high pressure filters. The city’s water is drawn from nearby groundwater wells. A few years back, the Bellefontaine WTP began experiencing some filter media issues, which included sand compaction and cementing of the media layers. They also had packing issues in their air stripping towers. The high iron content of the city’s water was fouling the air stripper media and causing them to clump together.  When both the pressure filters and air stripping towers began to fail and the equipment no longer operated within their performance parameters, the City of Bellefontaine started looking for solutions. Not having any prior insight of chemical cleaning, the WTP resorted to hiring a company to come on sight and remove all the filter media and air stripper packing in each unit and replace with new product in each. According to Tim Newland, Bellefontaine’s WTP Supervisor, “It was incredibly expensive, as you can probably imagine.” The entire media and packing replacement project proved to be an educational experience for Newland and the others at Bellefontaine WTP. Not long after completing this expensive and time consuming project, Newland heard of a company called Floran Technologies, now Blue Earth Labs. In need of a more cost-effective treatment option, he contacted them and met with a representative of the company shortly after his call. He explained the dilemma, and Blue Earth Labs took core samples of the filter media to determine the best approach for cleaning the media and packing. After laboratory assessments of the filtration media and packing materials, Blue Earth Labs put together a report detailing Bellefontaine’s water infrastructure issues. The report included a thorough analysis of the contaminants found on the filter media and the quantity and mix of chemicals needed to thoroughly clean the pressure vessels and stripping towers. Due to the high contaminant levels, they recommended yearly cleanings and developed a proposal to perform chemical cleanings annually.  Newland stated, “Much to our surprise, it was a considerably cheaper process.” The chemical cleaning procedure has proven to be much easier for Newland and his team as they try to maintain daily operations and decrease the amount of downtime. Chemical cleaning was completed within one week compared to one month for the removal/replacement process.  After going through this process and seeing the dramatic results, the Bellefontaine WTP entered into a three-year contract to annually clean all of its air stripping towers.  During this contract period, Floran Technologies became part of Blue Earth Labs. According to Newland, “This brought together the best of the best.” The Blue Earth Labs team reevaluated the filter media conditions and was able to determine that the pressure filters did not have to be cleaned every year – which was good news for Newland’s budget. “We gladly renewed our contract with Blue Earth Labs and continue to have great success in partnering with them. They present themselves in a professional manner, respect our property and show great concern for the environment. My only regret is that I wish I had heard about Blue Earth Labs and its Floran product line before we went to the expense of removal/replacement. But by going through that process and learning from our mistakes, we have saved thousands of dollars, and kept our maintenance costs down. We are very pleased with where we are today…VERY PLEASED!” said Newland. Overall, the Bellefontaine WTP saved an average of $25,000 per air stripping tower. Newland now believes that if any water operators have a media or packing issue, that they should get a second opinion before making the costly move to replace filter media. “I highly recommend seeing if the team of experts from Blue Earth Labs can assist you. Like myself, you might find the time spent is money saved,” added Newland.

Bellefontaine’s air stripper media after in-place chemical cleaning

Bellefontaine’s air stripper media prior to cleaning