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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Utah Valley Water Treatment Plant in Orem on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

OREM — As one of the fastest-growing areas along the Wasatch Front, northern Utah County is expecting its population to almost double over the next half century.

Planning for that growth includes making sure the nearly 1 million people who live there have enough water. This week marked a milestone in that preparation with the completion of $50 million in upgrades to the area’s main water facility.

On Thursday, the Utah Valley Water Treatment Plant was officially renamed the Don A. Christiansen Regional Water Treatment Plant in honor of its former longtime general manager.

Located in Orem, the facility serves Orem, Provo and several other cities in northern Utah County and southern Salt Lake County.

The facility has a capacity of 100 million gallons per day and currently treats water conveyed from the Provo River and Deer Creek Reservoir. In the near future, the plant will also receive water from a third source: Strawberry Reservoir, explained plant manager David Hardy.

Launched in May 2013, the now completed project is expected to serve its customers' needs for years to come, Hardy said. The plant recently won the “best tasting water” competition at the American Water Works Association's Intermountain Section Conference, he added.

“The thing that helped us the most was that we installed ozone generators,” Hardy said. “Ozone is a powerful oxidizer (and) is very good at removing (undesirable) tastes and odors.”

The plant produces some of the cleanest water in the nation using the technology that removes particulate matter better than other similarly sized plants, he said.

As part of the upgrades, a $3.5 million federal grant was used to meet federal seismic standards with all new buildings, and structures built as part of the improvement project were constructed to meet the most current seismic standards and code requirements, said project manager Mike Whimpy.

Those upgrades will enhance the safety and stability of the facility during most significant seismic events, Whimpy said.

Looking ahead, general manager Gene Shawcroft said that with drought so prevalent across the West, water districts everywhere are doing their best to manage their precious resources.

“We have a very aggressive water conservation plan, along with other water districts and cities,” Shawcroft explained. “We’re trying to do whatever we can to help people use water wisely.”

He said the goal of his district and others in Utah is to maintain an adequate, safe water supply well into the future. Shawcroft added that incentive programs that promote water conservation will help reduce the amount of water people use on a daily basis, thereby extending the useful life of the current water supply.

“With the doubling of our population over the next 50 years, it’s obvious that conserving (alone) won’t provide enough water,” he said. “We will be developing new resources as we look 50 years into the future. How the growth occurs and how fast it occurs will dictate how quickly we’ll move with additional water supplies in the future.”

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