Water treatment facility honored

Treatment plant recognized for high-quality, safe water

Missouri American Water’s Meramec Treatment Plant was one of 132 plants in the United States to receive the 10-Year Director’s Performance Award from the Partnership for Safe Water. Once water is retrieved from the Meramec River, it goes into a basin, pictured, to begin the water purification process.

Missouri American Water’s Meramec Treatment Plant was one of 132 plants in the United States to receive the 10-Year Director’s Performance Award from the Partnership for Safe Water. Once water is retrieved from the Meramec River, it goes into a basin, pictured, to begin the water purification process.

By Kari Williams

Missouri American Water’s Meramec treatment plant is being recognized for exceeding regulatory requirements in delivering quality water to residents in south county and Jefferson County.

The Meramec plant, along with the South County and North County plants, recently was awarded the 10-Year Director’s Award from the Partnership for Safe Water.

The partnership is a voluntary program established by the Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations to “recognize water suppliers for consistently achieving high-quality water treatment and water quality that surpasses any regulatory EPA requirements,” according to Cindy Hebenstreit, director of field operations for St. Louis County.

The Meramec, South County and North County plants are three of 132 water treatments plants to receive the award out of more than 150,000 plants in the United States.

“This award represents just more than getting an award for safe water,” Hebenstreit said. “It’s an award for the people that work here and the commitment and extra monitoring that they do on a daily basis.”

Mickey Bernard, chairman of the Missouri section of the American Water Works Association, said he believes, sometimes, people in the industry lose sight of the fact that they are in the business to make a quality product that serves the community.

“(The water treatment plant) gives a resource to our community that we can’t live without, which is a reliable, safe drinking water,” he said. “… Missouri American does a wonderful job in doing that and as part of that, we’d just like to recognize their commitment to the water business, and hope that there’s many more years of this to come.”

Frank Kartmann, president of Missouri American Water, said the company serves about 25 percent of the state’s population and has about $1 billion in assets, including pipes, pumps and plants. Though Missouri American Water is proud residents can take water service for granted, Kartmann said the work being done is “really nothing without the employees.”

“… It’s people like our employees here that have the integrity and the commitment to making sure every drop of water that leaves the plant here, every day, is high quality, meets or exceeds all EPA regulations and is of the quality to receive this award from the Partnership for Safe Water,” Kartmann said.

In the treatment process, water is pulled from the Meramec River and treated with chemicals. The chemicals latch on to some of the dirt that is in the water from the river and pulls the dirt out of the water. The water then proceeds through basins — the Meramec plant has four — and travels to filters, according to Ray Elliott of Missouri American Water.

“Once it goes through the filter process, it goes into what we call a clear well underneath … big motors … and, after that, those motors pump it straight out to the customer,” Elliott said.

The Meramec plant “can push about 48 million gallons” through the plant in one day, according to Elliott, and the largest plant, in Chesterfield, can output about 217 million gallons each day.

The Meramec plant has 11 staff members for its 24/7 operation — five operators, three mechanics, one utility worker and two operator helpers — and has been in St. Louis County since 1973.