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The original item was published from 12/20/2023 12:52:00 PM to 12/20/2023 12:52:38 PM.

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Water Management

Posted on: March 17, 2021

[ARCHIVED] City of Durham Announces Completion of Water Treatment Plant Upgrades

Photo of Williams Water Treatment Plant

DURHAM, N.C. — Durham’s Department of Water Management is pleased to share the completion of a multi-year process to upgrade its two water treatment plants. The Department recently closed out the contracts on the final phase of the project—upgrades to the residuals processes at both water treatment plants—effectively completing the project. The total cost of $110 million for all improvements included expanding the capacity of the Wade G. Brown Water Treatment Plant from 30 million gallons per day to 42 million gallons per day; improvements to the Williams Water Treatment Plant and a new concrete apron for its terminal reservoir; as well as upgrades to the residuals management processes at both water treatment plants (WTPs) to meet applicable regulations.

“Water Management is committed to 24/7/365 delivery of clean, safe drinking water to our customers. The planning for these upgrades began approximately 13 years ago and were initiated to meet the projected water demands as well as regulatory requirements. We feel confident that these improvements will meet Durham’s needs for another 20 years. As Durham and the region continue to thrive, Water Management will continue to plan for growth and improve our infrastructure. When our customers turn on the tap they expect clean drinking water. These upgrades accommodate growth while also complying with state and federal regulations,” said Durham’s Water Management Director, Don Greeley. 

Water Treatment Plant upgrades
While construction began in October of 2016, the planning, design and permitting process for these improvements began in 2008. The capacity expansion at the Brown WTP to 42 MGD, required the installation of several new basins, new piping and pumps, a large generator and added a new Administration building. Highlights of the Williams WTP updates included filter upgrades and clearwell improvements. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems at both facilities were modernized to current standards. 

Residuals Process
As part of the routine treatment of raw water into potable water, solids are settled and filtered out of the raw water. These solids are referred to as residuals and must be treated and disposed of in accordance with state and federal regulations. The residuals treatment processes at the two plants were the focus of the final phase of the project. New construction at both sites included tanks, pumps and piping, clarifiers and on-site sewer lift stations. A dewatering building with belt presses was built at the Brown WTP to serve both facilities.

Water Plant terminal reservoirs
The City has two main sources of raw (untreated) water: Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir. Raw water is delivered from Lake Michie and Little River Reservoir to terminal reservoirs located at the city’s two water treatment plants. The Brown WTP terminal reservoir holds approximately 90 million gallons and the Williams WTP terminal reservoir holds approximately 45 million gallons. This represents a three-day supply of water for Durham customers. 

While the upgrades were in underway at the Williams WTP, in 2017 a concurrent project took place to install a new concrete apron at the on-site terminal reservoir. This was the first time the reservoir had been drained in the plant’s 100-year history. While the apron was being installed at the Williams WTP, the plant was off-line from late September 2017 through mid-July 2018. During this time, the City relied on water from the Brown WTP, as well as supplemental water from our partners at the Town of Cary and the Orange Water and Sewer Association (OWASA). Staff at the Brown WTP are to be congratulated for continuing to provide clean, safe, award winning drinking water throughout the entire construction time-frame.

For more information about these projects visit:

About the Durham Water Management Department 
Durham Water Management is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Durham's water supply, water treatment and water reclamation (wastewater treatment) facilities, the collection and distribution systems (including meter reading), and customer billing services. The department has a wide variety of support divisions and programs to maintain the existing infrastructure that provide these integral services, and strives to be a responsible steward of the City’s physical assets. For more information, visit, like Durham Saves Water on Facebook, and follow @DurhamWater on Twitter.


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