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Coupeville plant plugs drinking water waste

"Until about three weeks ago, Coupeville was using a half million gallons of drinking water each month to operate it's wastewater treatment plant. Or about enough to supply a month's worth of fresh water for about 90 single-family homes. But then Public Works Director Larry Harmon got together with the crew down at the plant and pitched a plan.About an hour later, the plant began using recycled water to treat waste, saving more than 16,000 gallons of fresh water a day.The solution, basically, was to stop wasting fresh water. I had an idea for a different way of doing things, Harmon said. So the first step was to get the existing water re-use system running.The system hadn't run, he said, since 1994.Harmon said the operators had a suggestion of their own: Why not just remove a check valve that supplied potable water into the system?So we went in and ran it and it ran fine and they took the valve out, Harmon said. My only concern is if the system quits working. We'll need water to run the treatment plant and we'll have to replumb the potable water supply line back into the system.Harmon said everyone is prepared to do that in the event it becomes necessary, but so far, it hasn't.It's been running fine, Harmon said. The intent is to keep it running this way and when we finally do the waste water treatment plant expansion, we'll do everything necessary to make the plumbing meet current codes so we can supply both the existing and expanded treatment plant.The project to renovate and expand the wastewater treatment plant is scheduled to begin this fall or early 2001."

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