The Regional Water Filtration Facility is the most visible component of Fitchburg’s program to upgrade its drinking water supply system. The completion of the Facility is the culmination of years of effort by the City to provide high quality water to its citizens, comply with the requirements of the Surface Water Treatment Rule, and provide corrosion control in compliance with the Lead/Copper Rule.
Historically, Fitchburg has obtained its drinking water from numerous surface water reservoirs. One primary series is located in the northern section of the City and consists of the Falulah, Lovell, and Ashby Reservoirs. Another series is located south of the City, including the neighboring town of Westminster, and consists of Wachusett Lake, Bickford Reservoir, Mare Meadow Reservoir, and Meetinghouse Pond. Other reservoirs (Scott Reservoir and Overlook Reservoir) have served localized areas of the City.
To cost effectively treat the existing surface water supplies, the City contracted with Earth Tech for the design of two independent treatment facilities – the Regional Water Filtration Facility near Meetinghouse Pond and the Falulah Water Filtration Facility located near Falulah/Lovell Reservoir. Designed to meet all the drinking water demands of the City, the Falulah Water Filtration Facility processes 6 million gallons per day (mgd) while the Regional Water Filtration Facility processes 12 mgd, with potential expansion to 15 mgd in the future.
Due to the foresight of past City leaders, Fitchburg has benefited significantly from the location of its drinking water supply reservoirs. The hilly terrain of the surrounding areas and the location of the reservoirs relative to the City’s population have resulted in a water system which relies primarily upon gravity to provide adequate flows and pressures to all customers. This eliminated the need for any significant pumping, with associated savings in electrical costs.
The Regional Water Filtration Facility was carefully sited to maintain the City’s existing gravity flow system and its associated benefits. Through an inter-municipal agreement with the Town of Westminster, the Facility is located at Hager Park in Westminster and provides treated drinking water to the City and the Town. The site is adjacent to Fitchburg’s existing 36-inch diameter water transmission main, providing additional cost savings by eliminating the need to construct new transmission mains.
Earth Tech designed the filtration facility building to fit the sloping Hager Park site. In fact, direct "ground level" access is provided to both levels of the facility by blending it into the naturally sloping topography. This resulted in a low profile facility that is easy to operate and maintain. Additionally, the compact facility design translated directly into cost savings for the City when the project was bid for construction.
Raw water flows from Meetinghouse Pond into the facility by gravity through a combination of existing and new water transmission mains. After chemical addition, water flows by gravity into the clarifiers and filters before continuing on to the clearwell and onsite 2 million gallon (mg) Water Storage Tank. Treated water then flows out to the City’s customers by gravity using the existing 36-inch diameter water transmission main.
The treatment process provides for injection of chemicals for oxidation, coagulation, disinfection, pH/alkalinity adjustment, and fluoridation. These systems were designed to allow for bulk delivery of chemicals, including soda ash and sodium bicarbonate. Bulk delivery significantly reduces operator involvement in chemical handling, thereby improving safety and refocusing the operator’s efforts on monitoring and optimizing the treatment process.
The entire process is controlled electronically through a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which allows for complete monitoring and control of the facility from the Control Room and/or a remote location. The SCADA system is also designed to retrieve data from several remote sites, allowing operators to monitor all aspects of the water supply system from a central location. Ultimately, the SCADA system will be integrated with the Falulah Water Filtration Facility, thereby allowing monitoring and control of all aspects of the City’s water supply system from that site.