From municipal water treatment systems to industrial wastewater treatment projects, WesTech provides sophisticated water treatment process solutions to customers all over the U.S. and the world. But it’s not often that those who work at WesTech have the chance to be involved in a project that directly serves the community in which they live.
That’s the story in Ames, Iowa, where WesTech took a lead role in building the city’s new water treatment plant, which will provide clean and safe drinking water for their friends, neighbors, and in many cases their own families. “There’s something about working on a project that’s of so much importance to your community that makes this project really special,” says Product Manager Scott Pallwitz, who has lived and worked in the area most of his life.
WesTech has been integrally involved in construction of the new Ames Water Treatment Plant since the design stage, working with the agent (Vessco, Inc), the contractor (Knutson Construction), and the consulting engineer. Thanks to the proximity and close community relationships, WesTech staff have had an open invitation to tour the plant.
“So often we work behind the scenes and don’t actually see our projects in process, but in this case, we had multiple opportunities to go over and watch the equipment being installed,” says Brad Oswalt, WesTech’s Project Manager for the Ames project. “People in the office were excited about it and these site visits gave everyone in the office a greater appreciation of what we do.”
Local technology has played an important role in Ames’ water system from the beginning. The current water treatment plant, originally built in 1924 and expanded multiple times over the years, used equipment built by General Filter, which was founded in Ames in 1935. General Filter was purchased by WesTech in 2012, along with Microfloc.
WesTech filters, aerators, and clarifiers are featured in the new plant. Start up of WesTech's equipment took place in mid-July of 2017; total completion of the plant is expected in August.
“Knowing that we play a part in providing clean, good-tasting drinking water to so many people always provides me with great satisfaction, but the fact that this project is in the town I have lived in for more than 17 years adds to the meaning,” says Chris Rettig, WesTech Group Leader for Group 60, which produces many of the components used in the plant.
“My wife and children drink this water on a daily basis,” adds Rettig. “Also, my wife’s mother drinks and cooks with Ames water, and it’s always a good idea to impress your mother-in-law.”
Ames’ water has a clean, fresh taste that’s prized by residents and visitors alike. In fact, Ames has competed in local and national “Best Tasting Water” competitions, winning quite a few awards along the way. The city took this fact into account when deciding on the type of plant to build; the new facility utilizes the same lime softening process and will operate much like the old plant, however with new, more modern and efficient equipment.
“Ames has the well-known reputation of having the best tasting water, not only in the state, but nationally,” says Pallwitz. “So it was very important to everyone to keep the same formula and process. We’re using the newest versions of the technology they’ve relied on for a long time that’s produced this great tasting water.”
In designing the plant, the Ames City Council sought input from all of those who would be working at and operating the plant. “Everyone who works there, from the operators to the lab technicians to the support staff, got to have a say throughout the design process, so the pride of ownership is very high,” says Pallwitz.
So high, in fact, that the City’s Public Art Commission is holding a contest for art to be exhibited when the plant holds its open house on August 26. Two pieces will receive awards.
That angle of local involvement has been important to everyone concerned. “Ames is a community-centered city, so the equipment supply and installation by local companies fits into the city’s culture,” says Rettig. “At WesTech, we take pride in our products, so this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our products to friends, family, and local citizens.”
Agrees Pallwitz: “It’s a new and different experience that’s helped us understand that what we’re doing changes people’s lives.”
To learn more about this project, read our municipal blog post about the Ames water treatment plant.