More than 800 people were shown how water reaches their faucets Saturday at Columbus Water Works’ annual celebration for Drinking Water Week.
Columbus Water Works opened up its River Road facility to the public to celebrate the week, which ran from May 2 to 8. Adults and children were able to tour the building and learn about the treatment process. After the tours, visitors were treated to free food, facepainting and other entertainment.
James Stephens, superintendent of water treatment at the Water Works, said they hold the event each year to highlight what they do for the community. A city owned water and wastewater utility, the Water Works has the capacity to treat about 90 million gallons of water a day. It serves about 185,000 people in Muscogee County, Fort Benning and the southern parts of Harris and Talbot counties.
“We want people to know how their water gets to them,” Stephens said. “We want to be interactive with our customers.”
He also said he hoped the event would teach people about water conservation and why they shouldn’t take their resources for granted.
Less than one percent of the Earth’s water is suitable for drinking, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ocean or seas comprise about 97 percent. About 2 percent is frozen and unusable.
Katie Shuler, 32, came to Columbus Water Works with her husband, five young children and several friends. The Columbus mother said the event is their favorite annual festival in Columbus.
“I’m amazed at how much water they can clean for Columbus and how they give back to the community — their customer relations,” she said.
Columbus area residents’ tap water comes from Lake Oliver. It takes between four to six hours for the whole treatment process, which includes chemical treatment, quality tests and filtration.
Stephens said Columbus Water Works currently has a couple of projects on its plate. About a year ago, a 6-million gallon steel storage tank collapsed at its facility. On Saturday, Stephens pointed to two concrete tanks sitting in its place. One was completed in October and another is set for completion by the end of this month.
The water utility also plans to break ground in the next six months on another facility at Fort Benning. Stephens said it will accommodate for the 28,000 newcomers expected from Base Realignment and Closure. That facility should be able to handle about 8 million gallons a day.