Lodi city officials and several members of the public received their first look at the new surface water treatment plant currently under construction near Turner Road and Mills Avenue on Tuesday.
The plant will be able to pump and treat 10 million gallons a day from the Mokelumne River. The water will then go through Lodi's underground distribution system, where it will be combined with the city's current supply of well water.
The early morning study session included a bus ride and walk through the main building in the plant. The bus also briefly stopped where the city is installing a pump station in Woodbridge to get the water from the Mokelumne River.
Councilmen Bob Johnson, Phil Katzakian and Alan Nakanishi attended the tour, as well as city staff and several members of Citizens in Action, Lodi's Tea Party group.
The attendees wore hard hats, orange and yellow neon construction vests and safety goggles while listening to Deputy Public Works Director Larry Parlin describe the basics of the plant. On a busy day, 120 employees are at the site working on construction, city staff said.
The plant will draw water from the Mokelumne River that will enter a sedimentation basin to allow any big particles to settle.
"The water source from the Mokelumne is very clean, and so we don't have a lot of that," Parlin said.
Then, the water will move through rows of metal pipes that contain hundreds of individual membranes that filter the water.
"You force the water under high pressure through the membranes, and it's really a micro-filtration process that removes any of the small particles, viruses, bacteria, all that sort of things that are in the surface water," Parlin said.
Chemicals, including chlorine, will also be added as needed during the process before the water is stored in a 3 million-gallon tank. The city can then release the water into the city's distribution system.
The plant is scheduled to come online this fall, and at first, it will be staffed 24 hours a day until the city gets approval from the California Department of Health Services to let the plant run automatically, Parlin said.
The city is also moving the computer system for all of the wells and pump stations to the treatment plant, so it can all be run from one location.
Public Works Director Wally Sandelin pointed out that the system is so advanced, the staff will be able to run the plant from home if needed.
The city is also creating a database with all of the preventative maintenance to keep up with the manufacturer's recommendations.
Construction of the plant cost the city $36 million.
The project started in 2003 when the council voted to purchase 6,000 acre-feet in water a year from Woodbridge Irrigation District. The city was able to bank all of the water until it decided what to do with it.
The council was split for years on what to do with the water, even in 2006 when the council decided in a split vote to move forward with the plant.
While driving to the plant, Sandelin said it has been a long road to get it constructed.
"We had many meetings, many consultant presentations, many heartbreaks, many three to two votes," he said.