Water Treatment Plant Counts on Trusted Supplier for Latest Underdrain Technology

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For the Lake County Public Water District, choosing a filtration solution for the future wasn’t hard. All they had to do was look back on the last 50 years.

The District processes 6.5 million gallons of water per day to provide drinking water to several neighboring communities in northern Illinois. When it comes to this critical resource, there’s simply no cutting corners on quality, safety or reliability. Which is why the District has worked with Leopold, a Xylem brand, for more than half a century.

Based in Zion, IL, the District has long enjoyed dependable performance from Leopold underdrain systems. Their previous two systems each performed for 25 years before being upgraded. Now, the District has installed Leopold’s latest innovation in underdrains — the Type 360 Underdrain, featuring a cutting-edge design for optimal filtration and backwash.

“[Xylem] was instrumental in getting us on the right path and in the right direction in engineering the new system,” said Don White, the District’s General Manager.

The Type 360 is a groutless underdrain system that is bolted in place, allowing service to individual laterals. The underdrain delivers best-in-class fluidization of media to increase filter run times and reduce backwash water consumption. It also features an efficient self-cleaning system for maximum reliability and uptime. These were among the many qualities that appealed to the District, which was looking decades ahead when they made the decision to upgrade.

“They were being proactive and wanted to go ahead and move on to a new underdrain system that would require less maintenance or be maintenance-free,” said Bruce Wolfe, Territory Manager for Leopold.

Leopold worked closely with local engineers and contractors to design a solution that would perform reliably over the long term. One of the main considerations was making sure the system had the necessary piping for future air scour, which will reduce backwash water use. Leopold also provided the engineered filter media, consisting of 15 inches of silica sand and 20 inches of anthracite.

“We’re a full system service provider, making sure our customers get optimal performance from their filtration system,” Wolfe said.

The installation was completed in March 2022, and the District is already seeing promising results.

“The system is functioning above expectations,” White said. “The filter run hours are above 150 hours. The filter effluent turbidities are tremendous. Loss of heads are below five [feet] when we’re doing a backwash. The filter is performing outstanding.”

And when the health of local residents is on the line, that’s precisely the kind of performance one should expect.

“An underdrain system is the final step of a process in a water treatment plant,” Wolfe said. “And that’s probably the most crucial piece of equipment. So, you want to have a reliable system that will provide safe drinking water to the community.”

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