O.B. Curtis could be operating at full capacity this fall, public works director says

Public Works Director Charles Williams expands the Curtis plant's membrane filtration unit.
Public Works Director Charles Williams expands the Curtis plant's membrane filtration unit.(WLBT)
Published: May. 27, 2021 at 2:00 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If everything goes right, the city of Jackson’s main water treatment plant could be operating at full capacity by the fall.

Tuesday, the council approved a $1.6 million contract with Hemphill Construction to repair the No. 5 membrane train at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant.

The plant treats water in two ways, through the conventional and membrane filtration methods.

On the membrane side, water is pumped in and diverted to the trains, which then filter the water before it is chemically treated and sent into the distribution system, Public Works Director Charles Williams said.

Curtis has six membrane trains, two of which are currently down.

The council recently approved a $1.2 million contract with Suez Water Technology and Solutions to repair the other train, Williams said.

“We hope to have all the trains in service by the fall,” he said.

Once the trains are operational, the plant will be one step closer to reaching its capacity output of 50 million gallons of water a day.

Currently, the facility can only process between 35 million and 38 million gallons of water daily.

Williams said increasing the plant’s capacity would improve service across the city, including in areas that are currently plagued by low water pressure.

“We’ll have the ability to bring more water in, filter it, process it, and get it out into the distribution system,” he said.

The Curtis plant has been at the center of controversy for months.

In February, operations at the plant were crippled when back-to-back winter storms caused equipment there to freeze.

Then, in April, the plant was shut down for several hours after an electrical fire broke out.

Amid those problems, a report from the Environmental Protection Agency came to light highlighting a litany of deficiencies at the plant, some of which said presented “an imminent and substantial endangerment to the persons served by the system.”

EPA inspectors visited the facility last February at the behest of the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The agency released the results of its inspection last March, but details were not made public until this year.

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