New Water Treatment Plant Set To Open In Fallon

Fallon Cancer Cluster
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Spring break is coming at just the right for the Churchill County School District.

Fallon's new arsenic-filtering water treatment plant goes on line Tuesday, and that will give the district time to turn on drinking fountains at all nine Fallon schools.

Since November, bottled water has been provided to students in the school system after the fountains were turned off so the youngsters wouldn't be tempted to drink municipal water, which contains 100 parts per billion of arsenic and violates federal standards.

One administrator is glad to see the end to water distribution each day. Judy Pratt, principal at Churchill County Junior High School, said students squirted or threw bottles at each other.

"I guess it was a necessary thing but am I glad to see it end? You bet I am. I'm glad to see it end and my teachers are glad to see it end," she said.

Gregg Malkovich, principal at Northside Elementary School, said the water distribution to students at his school went smoothly after the novelty wore off. At first, a lot of water was wasted.

"We went through a lot of water at first and then it slowed down," he said.

A group of Fallon parents worked for months to convince school officials to offer bottled water in schools.

The city's new treatment plant will filter arsenic down to 50 ppb or lower. Fallon and other cities throughout the country have until 2006 to meet the new federal standard of 10 ppb.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., worked with local parents to get $100,000 passed through Congress to pay for bottled water in the schools. U.S. Filter, a division of Culligan Water Systems, donated $25,000 to cover the cost of getting the water delivered to each school and pick up empty bottles for recycling.

Reid is scheduled to join U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., representatives of Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Kenny Guinn and Fallon officials on Tuesday for the opening of the plant.