Odd water odor, taste said to be no safety issue

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ALEEN RATZLAFF
Those Marion residents who have recently noticed odor or taste problems with their tap water needn’t be alarmed, city administrator David Mayfield said at Monday’s Marion City Commission meeting.

The water’s unpleasant smell or taste is the result of the break down of a machine that uses carbon to filter out such odors and tastes at the water plant, Mayfield told commissioners.

“The machine should be fixed by tomorrow,” Mayfield said.

In the meantime, residents can rid or reduce the odors in the tap water by using a portable carbon-filter pitcher.

For the past couple of weeks, Marion and the area communities of Hillsboro and Peabody have had to use alternate water sources because of toxic algae in the reservoir.

“The city is still drawing water from Luta Creek, and will continue to do so until we can use the Marion Reservoir,” Mayfield said. “It’s our goal to get back on to the reservoir.”

The electrical pumps, approved for purchase at last week’s meeting, were mistakenly sold to another client, so others “are being built, as we speak,” Mayfield said, adding that in the meantime, the city will continue to use two gasoline pumps to get water from Luta Creek.

He assured the commissioners that a backup system is in place, and sufficient water is available.

“We could shut the plant for an hour or two if we needed to,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield also said the plant operator runs multiple tests, at various intervals, to monitor compliance to Kansas Department of Health and Environment standards for water.

Mayfield anticipates some changes at the plant based on recommendations from KDHE. The agency advised the city to consider using an ozone water-treatment process.

“When we go to our (water plant) upgrade, we’ll look at going to ozone,” he said. “Ozone will kill everything-toxins, bacteria. I think it’s the way to go.”

Mayfield said he needs to gather information about the process, which could be “quite costly.”

“We’ll try to have the engineer (attend a commission meeting) sometime soon to explain how ozone works,” he said. “(Ozone) sounds like its the future of water treatment.”

Mayfield said he publicly wanted to thank many-including Darvin Markley-whose assistance helped to limit the time the city was under its water conservation ordinance.

At a special meeting Thursday, the city had passed a resolution ending its previous declaration of a water emergency, enacted at last week’s city commission meeting.

Harvey Sanders, director of public utilities, also commended city crews for putting in 114 hours of overtime.

“About all we’ve been doing is working on keeping our water flowing,” Sanders said.

Marion residents Kevin Fruechting and Sally Hannaford, both employees at Central National Bank, attended the meeting to hear the latest news on the water situation.

“We wanted to hear (the report) first-hand,” Fruechting said, adding that he was surprised there weren’t other people there for similar reasons.

During the meeting, the commissioners voted to sign a contract for a three-year service agreement with Plexar 1 Telephone system.

Angela Lange, city treasurer, said the plan would consolidate telephone line charges for the city office, police department, the museum and the library into one bill, as well as provide an intercom system to transfer calls to the appropriate office.

City Commissioner Jim Crofoot initially expressed some caution following Lange’s presentation.

“We need to be careful,” he said. “It sounds too good to be true, so it probably is.”

A three-year contract agreement for the system, offered by Southwestern Bell, could reduce average monthly phone charges by as much as 46 percent, Lange said, adding that the city recently signed a three-year agreement with SWB for long-distance service.

Crofoot reminded the commission about a change in Kansas sales tax laws effective July 1, when the point of sale will determine which municipality gets the tax.

The change will effect the city’s revenues from local taxes-maybe as much as $1,500 a month, Crofoot said.

In other business, the commissioners:

approved the May financial statement and the May investment and collateral report, both presented by Mayfield.

approved an updated version of the manual of personnel and policy guidelines for city employees, reviewed and updated by Mayfield and City Attorney Dan Baldwin.

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