Sixty miles east of Tulsa you will find Lakes Spavinaw and Eucha (Pronounce me as Oo-chie!) These lakes provide half of all water flowing throughout Tulsa to homes, restaurants, schools and businesses. The other half comes from Army Corps of Engineer owned Lake Oolagah 35 miles north of the city. That means your water travels nearly 100 miles from the raw sources!
Now the citizens of Tulsa don’t drink water directly from the lake do they? Far from it! Either by pump or by gravity flow (depending on seasonal demand) this raw water is carried to one of two water treatment plants owned by the City of Tulsa. Here we are going to follow the journey to the Mohawk plant north of the city and on to distribution to the customers. The other Tulsa water treatment plant is A.B. Jewel.
One lake into the next! Once the water travels from Spavinaw or Eucha it is stored in the Lake Yahola reservoir outside of the Mohawk treatment plant. Up to 95 million gallons per day can be fed into the reservoir! Lake Yahola can hold enough water to supply Tulsa for an entire month. What happens if there are problems below the surface? Jim Kondos and his flow-lines team suit up in scuba gear and spring into action. Jim’s team keeps an abundant supply of water flowing to the treatment plants from the sources. Diving into the Spavinaw dam to clear away logs or debris preventing flow can be a spooky job to handle!Photo Gallery
“Scuba diving into the Lake Spavinaw dam to clear debris is a spooky task, but I wouldn’t trade my job for any other field of work.”
That is what Jim Kondos will tell you if you ask him about his career with the City of Tulsa. With thirty-three years of service to the city under his belt, Jim is an expert when it comes to ensuring the flow of raw water is always open to Tulsa’s water treatment plants. Before Jim and his team, certain repairs would require days lost and cause valuable treatment resources to go offline. Today, Jim’s duly described “tough and dedicated” scuba team can make many of these repairs in fifteen minutes.
Jim leads a team of fourteen with three other members being certified divers, Mike Gilliam, Chris Moseley and Andy Herring. The Raw Water team is on call 365 days per year and is not afraid to dive during freezing cold temperatures and harsh weather to bring quality water to Tulsans.
Let’s talk dirt – organic matter to be exact. This is the first step to making Tulsa’s water safe for all to use. This organic matter is naturally occurring silt, clays and even bacteria that are suspended in the raw water. Short physics lesson: most of these organics are negatively charged particles. How do you repel a negatively charged particle? Add a positive! Water treatment is an art as much as it is a science. Just the precise amount of positive charges must be added here to ensure organic matter settles and raw water becomes clarified. The Mohawk Plant Operators are veterans at this art, and engineers like Rachel Watts research new and more effective ways to improve this process.Photo Gallery
“Every day I’m honored to protect the citizens of Tulsa and the surrounding communities by aiding Operators in the processes needed to deliver safe, healthy drinking water. I’m dedicated to working in a field that protects our most valuable resource and my fellow citizens. “
These are words directly from Rachel Watts, Water Process Control Engineer at the Mohawk Water Treatment Plant. Never satisfied with mediocrity, Rachel performs research and test studies to find better and more efficient methods and technologies to bring safe water to the City of Tulsa.
Optimization is Rachel’s forte. The city is in the capable hands of this Master of Biosystems and Agriculture Engineering graduate of Oklahoma State University. Many taste and odor issues are resolved before ever reaching Tulsans because Rachel is always on top of her game to ensure consistent, clean water flows through T-Town.
You didn’t think we would stop there did you? Not even close! This is the final stage of the process where physical removal of unwanted particles occurs. Have you ever used an at-home water filter, you know the pitcher that slowly trickles water through a filter from top to bottom? Well Tulsa has already done that for you! The filtration process uses a supersized version of water filtration, 20,000 pounds larger to be specific. Ten tons amounting to six feet in thickness of Granular Activated Carbon (GAC – the material in your at-home filter) is layered above an additional twelve inches of sand. These elements create the final step to remove any remaining particles, taste and odor compounds that the clarifier didn’t diminish during the settling process.Photo Gallery
Tony is an artist. No he doesn’t paint, sculpt or compose music. He does have a keen eye for the quality water Tulsa is dedicated to producing for its citizens. Finely tuned instruments monitor the water for harmful matter, optimal disinfectant levels and overall quality. These instruments are integral to clean, safe and healthy water. Even more integral however, are team members like Tony. In his career role, Tony monitors the water during treatment and visually anticipates adjustments that need to be made.
Tony has been on the Mohawk Treatment Plant team for five years. He is dedicated to continuously monitoring water quality, from the raw source to the high service pumps that send the water to your home or business. Producing water that surpasses all safety and quality standards while being aesthetically pleasing is Tony’s humble contribution to the citizens of Tulsa and the surrounding communities.
ClearwellsBelow the Surface
Didn’t we warn you we would go below the surface? The Clearwells are an enclosed underground system of serpentine channels that ensure proper mixing of water disinfectants. The filter gallery (those beautiful and massive Tulsa-blue pipes) feed water from the filters into the Clearwells. This is where disinfection begins! At this stage the Mohawk team adds a small amount of chlorine; an EPA approved water disinfectant. In addition to disinfectant, Fluoride is added to promote healthy teeth and prevent tooth decay in Tulsans.
Stephanie Aryan, Office Administrator takes her job seriously. One of her duties is to ensure proper water treatment supplies are in stock. Stephanie is a seasoned professional and knows how to do her job better than anyone. The disinfectant stage hinges on Stephanie always delivering on inventory supply. Every day she takes pride in her work!
The serpentine nature of the Clearwells not only allow for adequate mixing time, but creates a safe response time for the Mohawk team if water inconsistencies are detected by instrumentation. Water samples are continuously being tested in the Mohawk lab to screen for bacteria, taste and odor before the final stages of treatment. Lastly, trace amounts of ammonia are added to the water to serve as a secondary disinfectant during distribution.Photo Gallery
Twelve years of service as the Mohawk Water Treatment Plant Office Administrator has been Stephanie Aryan’s honor. “I love my job and the people I work with. Doing my part to take care of the Mohawk employees and serve Tulsa brings me great joy.”
Stephanie doesn’t let anything get by her. She ensures every employee is up-to-date with proper training, regular health assessments are coordinated and sufficient treatment supplies are in stock. The water plant and Mohawk team need Stephanie’s best every week. She never lets them down.
You won’t catch Stephanie in a bad mood. She is full of life and comes to work every day knowing it is going to be a good one. These are the people that bring Tulsa clean, safe and quality water.
ClearwellsBelow the Surface
2,500 horsepowerHigh Service Pumps
These gigantic pumps are not named high service without cause. You can feel the power when these seven motors topping out at 2,000 - 2,500 horsepower each create enough pumping pressure to distribute the final water product through Tulsa. That is more power than three to four brand new Chevrolet Corvette engines combined! These pumps are capable of sending sixty to one hundred million gallons of treated quality water per day to Tulsa and the surrounding communities.Photo Gallery
Before coming to the Mohawk Treatment Plant, Ryan was seasoned in his trade at the Haikey Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in south Tulsa. Ryan has called the Tulsa area home for nearly his entire life. Ryan maintains the computer interface and system that regulates water flow during the treatment process - the Distribution Control System (DCS.)
In true Tulsa fashion Ryan doesn’t stop there. He embraces challenge and looks for ways to improve the computer interface and the system. Keeping water flowing through the system and safely to the city is a job that we duly entrust to our loyal technicians.
2,500 horsepowerHigh Service Pumps
The home stretch! We are going back below the surface. Approximately 2,200 miles of water distribution pipes are below the city of Tulsa. Millions of gallons of Tulsa water flow safely beneath your feet every single day. We don’t abandon quality once the water is in distribution. Michael Randal is a member of the Quality Assurance team that collect 1,400 water samples per month! These samples are taken directly from the water already in distribution to ensure no quality issues jeopardize the safety of Tulsa’s drinking water.Photo Gallery
Native Tulsan Michael Randall holds an Organismic Biology degree from Northeastern State University. Michael puts his knowledge to work everyday for the citizens of Tulsa. Collecting close to 1,400 samples every month is no small task for the Quality Assurance (QA) Team. Yet month after month Michael tests and analyzes samples taken from throughout the city to ensure the highest quality.
Quality never sleeps, that is why the QA team is in the field year-round. Relentless in their efforts to bring Tulsa the best, team members like Michael give their precise service every day to this great city.