Water Plant

The City of Fenton is one of the few cities within Genesee County that supplies its own water to its residents.

Information & Capabilities

  • The plant is designed to treat a maximum capacity of 4.0 million gallons per day (MGD) with the ability to expand to 5.0 MGD. The City pumps approximately 400 million gallons of water per year.
  • There are 4 groundwater wells with the capability of pumping 4.5 MGD for treatment.
  • The plant has 2 ground storage tanks that hold a total of 1.5 million gallons of water.
  • There are 5 full-time employees to run daily operations and maintenance of the plant. All employees are licensed according to the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • The plant is equipped to run a state-certified bacteriological laboratory. This enables the plant personnel to perform the over 1,200 bacteriological sample tests each year that are necessary for operations.
  • Over 100 tests are performed each day in order to make sure the plant meets its treatment goals.
  • The plant uses 8 different treatment additives that are certified for use in drinking water.
  • The City's water quality is constantly being tested. Each year we develop a Water Quality Report that is submitted to the State of Michigan and reviewed. Copies of the report are mailed to every postal patron in the city and are available online.

Construction of the Plant

The new plant started operating in July of 2004 and was primarily constructed in order to remove arsenic, which is settled out during the softening process. The arsenic rule was proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on January 22, 2001, and adopted on January 23, 2002. In Michigan, we needed to meet the requirements of the rule by January 23, 2006. The rule set the maximum contaminant limit (MCL) to 10 parts per billion (ppb), which was a reduction from 50 ppb. Since the start-up of the new plant, the arsenic levels tested quarterly have been at Non-Detect (ND) levels.

Dual Purpose

The process of removing arsenic and other metals, such as calcium and magnesium (Hardness), is referred to as softening. Hardness can be defined as the soap-consuming capacity of a water sample. The softening process not only enables the city to meet the arsenic rule but also improves the life of the infrastructure over the long term.

The Process

The water is pumped into the plant by 4 groundwater wells that range from 75 to 100 feet deep. These wells are used individually and in combination with each other to pump the amount of water that is needed each day.

The water flows into an aeration tray at the top of the head tank, which removes dissolved gasses such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. Chlorine is added at this point to help speed up and complete the process reactions. The water then flows into the Claricones.

The Claricones are cone-shaped tanks that are the main treatment vehicles and are referred to as the cones. Lime is added to the Number 1 cone in order to take out the most easily removed hardness particles. In the cone, the water flows from the bottom of the tank to the top of the tank. As the water flows up and around the tank, the lime raises the pH of the water, allowing the particles of hardness to settle out. All of the water from cone Number 1 flows into cone Number 2 with a small portion of raw water also flowing into cone Number 2. Sodium hydroxide (caustic) and polymer are added to again raise the pH and remove the more difficult-to-remove hardness particles. The particles in cone Number 2 run into each other and grow larger in a process called flocculation; this process is aided by the use of the polymer. In both cones, some of the particles settle to the bottom and some settle into a small cone inside the larger cone called the concentrator. The material settled is referred to as the process sludge. This process sludge is directed to the drying lagoons behind the plant, which are emptied periodically. The pH of the water during primary treatment has been raised to 11.3 from the lime and caustic. The water then flows by gravity to the re-carbonation tank.

In the re-carbonation tank, carbon dioxide is bubbled into the water, bringing the pH down to about 8.7, which is the finished level of the water. An elevated pH is another way to combat corrosion in a distribution system. The water then flows into the filters.

The filters are the final process of treatment. There are 4 filters that have 12 inches of sand and 18 inches of anthracite coal in them. The water is treated with a small amount of phosphate before entering the filters in order to condition the filters from cementing. At this point, chlorine is added to its finished level for disinfection through the filtering process and beyond. The water then flows through the sand and anthracite, where particles left from primary treatment get caught in the filters, leaving the water with a look of clarity.

The water flows into the clearwell, which is a tank below the distribution pumps. As the water flows into this tank, a different type of phosphate is added for corrosion control, along with fluoride for strong teeth. In the clearwell tank, the water is stored temporarily before being pumped into the distribution system.

Distribution of the water takes place at this point. There are 4 high service pumps that provide the pressure that moves the water through the system and to the top of Denton Hill, where it is stored in 2 ground storage tanks. The height of the tanks provides pressure to the system when the pumps at the plant are turned off. The water is distributed to residential homes, as it is pumped from the plant or from the storage tanks, depending on when you turn on your tap.