Jail to get water softening system
Gillespie County Commissioners on Monday approved a $19,500 water softening system from Culligan Water Conditioning of Fredericksburg for the Gillespie County Jail.
John Sandstedt, Gillespie County Facility, Grounds and Janitorial Department supervisor, said the current system was put in less than a year ago and couldn’t handle the hard water.
“Our current system isn’t working properly. It didn’t last a year,” Sandstedt said. “We had people come in from other counties and they said this system works in areas that the water isn’t that hard, but because of the hardness of our water, this wasn’t the proper system installed.”
“The justification for why we put in a softener is, since last year, we’ve spent $12,000 in replacement parts,” he said. “Showers are sticking on, sinks are sticking, and everything is getting corroded because of the hard water.”
The initial cost includes installation and the first month of salt. The water softening system will cost $3,400 annually in salt to soften the water, and is needed to preserve the equipment at the jail and ensure longevity, he said.
“Between the boilers, the dishwasher, and the washing machine, we have about $80,000 worth of equipment that’s going to get ruined if we don’t get the water softener installed,” Sandstedt said.
The current water system lasted less than a year, Sandstedt added, and cost between $36,000 and $40,000 for the four tanks and installation.
Engineers did tests on the water softening system before installation, but the quality of water has changed since then.
“They did a water test, but at the time it wasn’t as hard as it is now, supposedly,” Sandstedt said. He said the current system is clogged and would need $16,000 to replace items on each of four tanks.
“They’re not really working so there’s no sense putting any more money into it,” he said.
The Culligan system will reverse the problems from the current system once it’s installed, Sandstedt said, and the resin in the Culligan softener will need to be replaced in 5 to 10 years for $3,400.
Some of the money for the system will come from fuel costs, Sandstedt said, which has been lower than budgeted.
Commissioners briefly discussed installing a reverse-osmosis system, which results in pure water, but tends to be a little more expensive.
“The reverse osmosis is about $60,000 and it would double to triple the salt consumption and quadruple the water consumption,” Sandstedt said. “Additionally, the membrane has to be replaced about every two years and that’s $5,000.”
Getting the softener installed is urgent and the county wants to save costs: last week they spent over $500 on four shower valves that were sticking due to corrosion caused from hard water, Sandstedt said.
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