MWA goes to great lengths to protect its Source Water
The water industry recognized Sept. 24-30, as Source Water Protection Week
(Macon, GA – Oct. 2, 2023) As the water industry celebrated the third annual Source Water Protection Week Sept. 24-30, the Macon Water Authority (MWA) continues to do its part to protect its water resources locally, which are necessary to produce the Best Tasting Drinking Water in Georgia.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) encourages water utilities and consumers to recognize Source Water Protection Week, with this year’s theme for the public awareness event being: “Protect the Source.”
The MWA does quite a bit to “protect the source,” by conducting extensive laboratory tests from water samples taken continuously from both of its raw water sources for drinking water production at the award-winning Frank C. Amerson, Jr. Water Treatment Plant – the Ocmulgee River and Javors Lucas Lake, the Authority’s 581-acre drinking water reservoir. These samples are taken daily, some as frequently as six times per day, to assure the source water coming into the Amerson Plant does not exceed permitted limits of regulated substances.
At the Ocmulgee River, the MWA tests for Conductivity, Turbidity (NTU), and pH, per EPA/EPD regulatory requirements. Likewise, at Javors Lucas Lake, the Authority takes regular water samples for laboratory tests of Turbidity (NTU), Alkalinity, Iron, Manganese, Hardness, Fluoride, Temperature, in addition to conducting Bacteriological testing.
The goal of these cumulative water quality tests is to assure the MWA remains in compliance with drinking water quality standards, as laid out in its Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP), which is the Authority’s strategy for protecting its source water for drinking water production.
Public water utilities such as the MWA use a SWPP to inform development and the public of its intent to implement measures to protect or enhance source water quality and availability, through strategies such as public education, watershed conservation, best management practices, or land use restrictions. In addition, a plan identifies additional activities or projects needed to mitigate threats to source water quality, while improving the resilience of the water supply, now and in the future.
In addition to protecting its source water at the Ocmulgee River and Javors Lucas Lake, the MWA also has a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) focused on monitoring the water quality of the entire area where its wastewater services are delivered within the Ocmulgee Basin. The MWA Board received an update on the WPP long-term monitoring report at its August Meeting.
As outlined in the Authority’s WPP, the long-term monitoring plan calls for the MWA to conduct 12 visits to each of eight designated streams scattered throughout the watershed, over the course of a reporting year, which runs January thru December. As a result, the MWA will collect test samples during three dry weather events, one wet weather event, a bacteria study (from May to October), and one biological monitoring event (fish or bug on a rotating basis).
Data collected according to the long-term monitoring plan of the WPP provide an assessment of the water quality and biological health of fish and macroinvertebrates living within these designated streams of the Ocmulgee Basin. The WPP is a requirement of the MWA’s NPDES permits, which Georgia EPD issues in accordance with U.S. EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
Finally, to further protect the Authority’s source water, the MWA hosts its annual Ocmulgee Alive river cleanup each year. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday Oct. 14, and the public is invited to participate in this effort to preserve this precious natural resource.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.