After nearly two years of planning and construction, the city of Walnut’s new water treatment plant is nearly finished and water customers have begun receiving softer water from the system.

According to Walnut City Clerk Terri Abel, the three-phase project includes the renovation of the Walnut water tower, the replacement of distribution lines, and the construction of a new water treatment facility. The new treatment facility now uses a process called Electro Dialysis Reversal or EDR. The process uses electricity to remove dissolved solids from the water and removes positive and negative ions, creating softer water with improved taste.

City Superintendent Jim Blum said that the new system produces water that is 10 grains of hardness, or the amount of calcium and minerals in the water, which is considered soft water. That figure is down from the 20 grains of hardness produced by the old system. In addition, the fluoride and radium content of the water has been reduced to comply with required specifications. The new treatment system is about 85 percent efficient, Blum said.

The benefits of the new system for consumers include reduced mineral deposits and water spots on dishes and fixtures. In addition, customers with water softeners will need to use less salt in their softener systems.

The new treatment facility included the construction of new building, a new filtration system, a new 25,000 gallon clearwell, and new piping, along with the addition of the EDR system. The third phase of the project, according to Abel, cost about $2 million. To fund the project, the city received State Revolving Fund loans, a Community Development grant through the state of Iowa, and a CITIES grant through the Iowa West Foundation. In addition, water rates were increased slightly last year to help fund the project.

Abel and Blum said that the reaction to the new water treatment method has been positive. They said the feedback they have heard is positive as consumers are noticing softer water and improved taste, along with more transparent ice cubes made from the water. Blum said it would be very difficult to distribute the water to every customer simultaneously, so the new EDR treated water has been added to the water distribution in phases, so not every customer should be able to notice a difference yet.


Note: Walnut is in Pottawatamie County. Fluoride levels were at 2.9 ppm.