Wilson’s ingenuity prevents water woes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Ten dollars worth of PVC pipe has saved the Town of Ferriday a ton of headaches at its water plant.

In late 1999, the town was placed under a 124-day boil notice because the plant kept shutting down, apparently due to lack of maintenance and operator error. One of the reasons the notice lasted so long was that the turbidity, or clarity, of the water could not be meet standards of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

But operator Derreck Wilson, who has worked for the plant for five years and is now the town’s water supervisor, came up with a solution. Using $10 worth of PVC pipe, he constructed what he calls a &uot;bubble chamber&uot; to take bubbles out of water that goes into the plant’s turbidity meters.

&uot;That gives us a much more accurate turbidity reading,&uot;&160;said Wilson, whose invention was featured in recent issue of the Louisiana Rural Water Association Quarterly Magazine.

The process used to purify water in a water plant creates bubbles in the water — bubbles a turbidity meter usually sees as debris, because they reflect light. But Wilson’s invention takes in a sample of the processed water and separates the bubbles from the sample by letting them float to the top of the PVC pipe. The water, minus bubbles, then goes into the turbidity meter. State water regulations require a plant to produce water with no more than 0.5 NTUs, or national turbidity units. With the bubble pipe, Ferriday’s water had a reading of less than 0.09 NTUs on Tuesday.

&uot;Even with the best turbidity meters on the market today, operators tend to be getting erratic or false readings,&uot; LRWA specialist Larry Cotten said in the article.