The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit Tuesday to the Meadville Area Water Authority to construct and install approved facilities and equipment for fluoridation of the water supplied to customers, according to Melanie Williams, DEP community relations coordinator.
The permit only authorizes MAWA to construct and install the fluoridation equipment.
“The construction permit does not authorize MAWA to operate the facilities or to fluoridate finished water,” Williams wrote in an email.
After soliciting bids for the project and having the work completed, MAWA would then need to apply for and receive an operations permit before the system could actually used to add fluoride to the water it supplies to customers, according to Thomas Thompson, senior project manager at Gannett Fleming, which serves as consulting engineer to MAWA.
“Technically, we cannot feed any chemicals or make any changes to the water until the DEP operations permit is issued,” Thompson said.
In issuing the permit, DEP would inspect the fluoridation system to make sure it has been installed properly and meets the safety parameters and other conditions contained construction permit, according to Thompson.
Both Thompson and MAWA Project Manager Bob Harrington said Tuesday it was too early to estimate a timeline for completion of the fluoridation system. The system already has been designed.
The MAWA board will likely address soliciting bids for the project and the construction time frame at its monthly meeting on July 18. Meetings take place at 2 p.m. inside the MAWA office, 18160 Rogers Ferry Road.
Learning of the construction permit approval was exciting, according to Thompson.
“It’s taken us a while to get here, but it is (exciting),” he said.