A resolution to an incident that polluted underground water here in 1986 was approved at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
The agreement forged between the city and Ensign-Bickford Co. will require the explosives manufacturer to help the city build its new secondary water system for irrigating yards and gardens.The new system is part of the process of removing minute amounts of RDX, an explosives compound, and nitrates. The compounds leaked into the aquifer 12 years ago when the lining to a then-Trojan Corp. settling pond broke. Ensign-Bickford later purchased the Trojan plant.
The nitrates measure at about three to 12 parts per million. Up to 10 parts per million is OK to drink, said Richard Heap, city engineer, but not recommended for babies or pregnant women. RDX is measured in parts per billion, said Jim Holtkamp, attorney for Ensign-Bickford.
The pollutants are "not at super high levels but must be cleaned up," Heap said.
The new water system will be used only for irrigation. The company will pump the water through a filtering system, then through the new secondary irrigation water system and into the Spanish Fork River from wells now being drilled, Hal Jaussi, manager of environmental remediation, told the Deseret News.
The wells will eventually connect to water pipes in Canyon Road, then go through town where the water will be used to water lawns and gardens and then to the river a quarter mile west of south Main Street below the new ballparks now under construction. The river empties into Utah Lake.
The contract will allow the city to increase the size of the waterline to take water to large users, including schools, parks and the cemetery. The increased cost of that water line, $45,925, will be paid by the explosives manufacturer, according to the contract.
Canyon Road waterline construction, which will be bid in July, will cost the company a $221,563 grant plus a $420,000 interest free loan to the city for 10 years, saving the city $135,000 in interest. The city will begin paying back that loan in August 1999. The grant is the same amount the company would have had to pay to pump the polluted water directly to the river, said Heap.
The Canyon Road waterline will serve new residential development in the Canyon Road area, which will save culinary water for indoor use. Construction is scheduled to begin in August.
One of three wells used to flush the groundwater will be donated to the city and connected to the city water system once it is no longer needed by the company, said Heap. That new water source is worth up to $150,000 to the city. A small building built to house filters for the cleanup will also be donated to the city once cleanup is completed.
The city will use its Spring Creek water rights to cover water pumping when the river is dried up from farmers irrigating with it. Those water rights are not now in use. Because the company is pumping the water, Spanish Fork is expected to save between $10,000 to $20,000 a year in power savings.
The 1986 leak also polluted water in Mapleton, forcing that city to shut down one of its wells. In an earlier agreement with Mapleton, Ensign-Bickford will build a treatment plant to filter the water from that well and it will also build the first phase of that city's secondary water system, estimated to cost as much as $2 million. The company will dig two other wells as part of a system to flush the aquifer and treat the water.
The water not used in that city's secondary water system will go to Hobble Creek.
Jaussi said the pollutants are decreasing and won't have a trace of RDX when the water goes into the secondary water systems. Levels of nitrates also are falling naturally, he said and won't be treated. "The system is treating itself," he said. Nitrates also come from agricultural sources.
"Spanish Fork is really being a good neighbor," said Holtkamp. "The drinking water is not affected one whit."