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Craig water plant returns to operation

During the Great Depression, a program initiated by the government to put Americans to work was the Works Progress Administration.

The WPA was responsible for building 78,000 bridges, 650,000 miles of roads and the Craig water plant, to name a few projects.

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For the past five weeks, the old Craig water plant has returned to operation as improvements to the main water plant made it necessary to temporarily close the unit.

"The old plant has three filter beds that were built in the 1930s," Craig Public Works Director Bill Earley said. "The other filter beds were built in the 1940s."

The old plant is capable of filtering about 2.9 million gallons of water per day, an amount that can meet the city's demands during the winter months.

That fact was taken into account when work began on the $9 million expansion of the water plant. Any work that requires shutting down the main plant must be completed while demand is low, when the old plant's capacity can handle it.

Next week the main water plant will be returned to service in time to meet summer demands for the city of Craig. About 5 million gallons of water per day are processed as people begin to water lawns and wash their cars in the warmer weather.

Warren Heskett is the lab supervisor for the city of Craig water plant. He said the filters in the old plant are able to handle the job of cleaning the city's water.

"We have six filters with layers of materials that filter the water," he said. "Water passes through layers ranging from coarse, to finer and finer materials."

Water from the Yampa River first passes through a large up-flow clarifier before entering the filters in the plant.

Water next passes through multi-media filter materials, including aggregate, granite, sand and finally anthracite coal. It also is chemically treated to remove impurities before entering the city water system.

The new plant expansion is expected to be completed by May 2008, at which time the capacity will increase to about 10 million gallons per day, meeting the city's demands for the next 25 years.

The new dissolved air flotation system doubles the amount of water passing through the tanks currently processing the city's water.

For the summer, the old plant will once again go into a standby mode, until it is called back to action during the winter of 2007-08 to provide water for the city while the work continues on the main water plant improvements.

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