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Water utility open house promises family fun !

September 26, 2007: Saint Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) will host an open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 4, at its McCarrons Center facilities in Maplewood.

The event is free, open to the public, and offers fun for the whole family. The open house will feature guided tours, prizes, and refreshments of cookies, punch, and popcorn. Continuous one-hour tours of the water treatment facilities, conducted by utility employees, will show visitors how the water is treated, filtered, and pumped into the distribution system. The walking tour will cover about one-half of a mile and require the ability to navigate stairs. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended. An adult must accompany all youths younger than the 8th grade level on the tour.

“The tours have been very popular throughout the years—most people are fascinated by what they see here,” says Jim Graupmann, manager of the utility’s Production Division. “Few people have any idea of how their water is treated and actually gets to their home. This is an opportunity for people to see a process that is normally just taken for granted.”

Attempts to improve Saint Paul’s water quality began in 1914, when copper sulfate was used to kill the algae in the lakes. Soon after 1917, the use of chlorine for disinfection began. In 1922, construction was completed on a treatment plant to provide coagulation, filtration, and disinfection. A larger, reconstructed plant began operation in 1940, to provide water softening in addition to purification.

“We continue to invest in our facilities so that we can continue to make improvements,” says Steve Schneider, the general manager of SPRWS. The most recent improvement is the completion of the Granular Activated Carbon filtration system. According to Schneider, the new filtering system helps alleviate the occasional taste and odor episodes with the utility’s water as well as improves overall filtering capability.

McCarrons Center is located at 1900 Rice Street, just north of Larpenteur Avenue. Prominent signs for SPRWS and the open house will be located along Rice Street near the entrance. The public can also enter on Sylvan Street from Larpenteur Avenue. Free parking will be available in the utility’s parking lot next to the administration building. There is no public access to the treatment plant, and to participate in the tours, visitors must first register in the administration building.

For further information, please call the SPRWS Customer Service office at (651) 266-6350.


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