Out with the old and in with the new for Keokuk drinking water

Two years ago, the plant received a $1.6 million construction loan to put toward a safer treatment system.

It is a case of "out with the old, in with the new," with Keokuk Waterworks.

Two years ago, the plant received a $1.6 million construction loan to put toward a safer treatment system.

This system puts the plant ahead of the times with its technology.

"Our project is for a chlorine generation project. We want to get rid of our chlorine gas cylinders we have always used. We used ton cylinders in the past and historically. And we wanted to go to on site chlorine generation, mainly for a safety factor," Keokuk Waterworks Manager Bill Cole said.

According to Cole, the former system is considerably more dangerous for the workers. He said the old system included chlorine gas tanks used to clean the water. Worker's had to wear all sorts of safety equipment just to handle it.

The new system generates an effective bleach solution that is weaker than household bleach.

"The main reason we wanted to eliminate the chlorine gas is just it's a safety factor for the employees carrying in the gas. Right now, bringing things in to town and hauling back in town are always a concern. As would be bringing in tanker loads of bleach. I mean there is always a potential for a chemical spill. By generating it on site, it eliminates all those concerns," Cole explained.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion said it is important to provide the cleanest water to residents in his town.

"We have been lucky. Over the last years, we have some of the cleanest water, we have a relatively new treatment plant, and now with the new things going into effect, it will be great," Mayor Marion said.

Cole said the old system is still in use until they fully test the new system.

They began using the new generators last Wednesday.

The construction loan is a low interest revolving loan. That means it will be available for other communities to borrow as Keokuk pays it back. It is a 20 year loan with a two percent interest rate.