By Kellen M. Quigley
For several years, the residents of Bonn Val — those who live on Bonnie Way East and Bonnie Ridge in the town of Great Valley — have been dealing with complications in the water system, but things have taken a turn in recent months.
From low water pressure to discoloration, residents of the housing development approached the town of Great Valley over the winter to assess the situation and hopefully resolve the water system’s issues for good.
At the May 13 Great Valley Town Board meeting, the board members took action assuring the problems would be addressed and hopefully fixed in the coming months.
The board authorized MDA Engineers to prepare plans and specifications to obtain written quotes to make changes at the Bonn Val water treatment plant, specifically with the filter and pipes.
According to Eric Wohlers, the Cattaraugus County Environmental Health Director, reducing the size of the water systems pumps and pipes from the original design and the introduction of the water filter later didn’t match the pressure from the original water tanks, which causes some of the water issues in the pipes.
“The filtration system is not designed to operate under that high of pressure, so then there were these pressure reducing valves required and it’s kind of a complicated little system,” Wohlers. “So the end result is that filter is now 20 years old, it’s corroded, it’s having problems…. We really think the solution is getting a new piece of equipment.”
Derek Rule, of MDA Engineers, said rather than replace some of the equipment inside the water filter at the treatment plant and fix what is there, MDA recommends replacing the entire filter because it’s only about a year off its expected usage.
“For some of the equipment change that is being proposed for up there, we decided we might as well change the filter system,” said Great Valley Town Supervisor Dan Brown. “The filter has a lifespan of 20 years and we’re at 19 now. … No sense in tearing into it twice.”
Since a majority of the wellhouse would have to be torn up to install a new filter system, Rule said MDA also recommends replacing the piping to the well house.
“The piping has been in there just as long as the filter has,” he said. “With the higher pressures inside the water treatment plant it’s probably approaching the end of its service life as well.”
Additionally, the pre-chlorination equipment going into the filter should also be replaced, Rule said. The board discussed the option of building an addition to the well house to store the chlorine tank separately from the filter, which could help with the corrosion.
The board also approved hiring Bob Scharf, a licensed water operator at the West Valley Demonstration Project, as an overseer of the project.
“Bob has experience with the water quality issues that Bonn Val experiences from his work at the West Valley nuclear plant,” Brown said. “It has similar high iron situations.”
Brown said Scharf has experience with the current equipment, the proposed new equipment and the problem with the system.
“He’s going to start now looking into the setup and the design,” Brown added.
Rule said because Scharf has the experience specifically in water operations, he would be more experienced and qualified to help design and install the system rather than an MDA engineer.
Pat Martin, a resident of Bonn Val, said a possible causes of the system issues is the lack of routine maintenance, adding that it hasn’t been done regularly enough over the years and likely led to the issues in recent months.
“I’m hoping Bob is the guy to say to say every three years you need to do this, or every six months you need to do that,” he said. “I don’t think anybody knows to do it.”
Although it would be expensive to replace the system, Martin said this project would make the water treatment more stable and last much longer, especially if someone can check on it regularly.
Dale Dineen, water operations manager with the village of Ellicottville, said the routine maintenance would include regularly flushing the pipes and watching the chlorine levels.
Before the town can determine how the project will be paid for, whether through grants or bonding, Brown said they have to wait for the bids to come in and see what costs the town is dealing with.
“I know the town board has put a lot of time in on this, and speaking for a couple residents up there, we’re really appreciative of this,” Martin said. “Everything is moving in the right direction.”