New treatment plant purifies water contaminated by mining

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WEST JORDAN, Utah – The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District unveiled a new water treatment plant Wednesday they said uses reverse osmosis to provide quality drinking water.

After about 100 years of mining activity in the area, some water resources need extra cleaning before they are fit for drinking.

Richard Bay is the general manager of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, and he said the new plant allows them to treat water contaminated by that mining activity.

“The mining contamination that has moved through the groundwater system in southwest Salt Lake Valley has covered 50 square miles, and it will take decades to clean up, but we’re able to remove the contamination with this process that demineralizes the water,” he said.

Paula Doughty of Kennecott Utah Copper said the company has teamed up with the water district to build the new water treatment plant, where millions of gallons of water will be purified. She said the project has been in the works for more than 10 years.

“The contamination that started a hundred years ago by some of the mining processes that were used historically, and that’s the bad part of it and what we’re not proud of,” she said. “What we are proud of today, is that we’re to this point where we are mitigating some of those practices and that contamination and making a positive out of it… The district is producing high quality drinking water for the public.”

Bay said they will use reverse osmosis at the plant to provide drinking water that will flow into the faucets of about 8,000 homes. He said the new plant is very advanced.

“This produces water that has a purity equal to the Provo River water that we've been delivering here in the valley,” he said. “It tastes great and is very safe.”

The treatment process employed at the plant is more expensive than traditional methods, but water district officials said it isn’t likely consumers will see much of a rate increase; officials said Kennecott is paying for most of the project, which will cost about $78 million.