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Marine Corps Base Quantico

"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

Excellence in granular filtration translates to clean drinking water

By Mike DiCicco | Marine Corps Base Quantico | June 20, 2013

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Robert Edelman, head of the Culpeper field office of the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water, left, presents a 2012 excellence award to Danny Gilley, head of Quantico’s Mainside Water Treatment Plant on May 29, 2013.

Robert Edelman, head of the Culpeper field office of the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water, left, presents a 2012 excellence award to Danny Gilley, head of Quantico’s Mainside Water Treatment Plant on May 29, 2013. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sara A. Medina)


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For the fifth year running, Quantico’s Mainside Water Treatment Plant won an Excellence in Waterworks Operations/Performance award.

The award, granted by the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water, was announced in late April and was presented on May 29, 2013, at the plant, which provides drinking water to all the main side of the base and also sells water to the Town of Quantico.

The award is granted for superior “granular media filtration,” said plant Supervisor Danny Gilley, explaining that the term describes the filtering of particles from the water, one of the final and most crucial steps in treating drinking water. While most of the treatment process is chemical, particle removal is the one stage that affects the physical quality of the water.

“It means the water is much safer to drink than in cases where you do not do the optimal particle removal,” Gilley said, noting that viruses and bacteria can hide in particles, and removing them makes the disinfection process more effective.

Federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations require drinking water to have a constant clarity of 0.3 nephelometric turbidity units or less, a measure of the water’s cloudiness. Water from the mainside treatment plant runs consistently at about 0.05 NTUs, Gilley said. Turbidity under 5 NTUs is virtually undetectable to the naked eye.

“Typically, treatment plants are able to keep it below a 0.2 pretty easily, and probably in the 0.15 range,” said Tom Sperlazza, utilities general foreman for the base. “When you get below a 0.1, that’s pretty remarkable.”

He said the plant was able to achieve this level of clarity even while rinsing the filters by backwashing them only about a fourth as often as most similar facilities. “They’re both effective and efficient,” Sperlazza said of the filters.

One reason for the plant’s success is the purity of the water coming from Breckenridge Reservoir, the source it draws from, he said, noting that there is virtually no development in the reservoir’s watershed to create pollution. Sperlazza also credited the attentiveness of plant operators and an effective plant design and treatment recipe.

“The main thing I give credit to is my employees,” Gilley said, adding that continuing support from the base Public Works Branch has also helped the plant maintain a high level of performance.

The facility, located on Chopawamsic Creek, near the back gate to the base, has 12 employees, including Gilley, a physical science technician, and five operators and five assistants who work in shifts to keep the plant running around the clock.

Sperlazza said a contract is expected to go out to bid in the coming months for the replacement of the facility’s filters. He said the next filters will be identical to the existing ones, so as not to mess with a good thing.

— Writer: mdicicco@quanticosentryonline.com

ImageAward Imagedrinking water Imageexcellence Imagefiltration Imagemainside ImageMarine Corps Imagepurity ImageQuantico Imageturbidity Imagewater treatment plant

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