Firms in industrial park not drinking city water yet

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Industrial businesses on Nash Road now have city drinking water.

But they're not ready to put the water where their mouths are.

Cape Girardeau city planner Kent Bratton told the planning and zoning commission Wednesday night that the industrial park on Nash Road now has potable water. It was a project Bratton said the city has been working toward since 1975.

"It's been a long time coming, and everybody seems real excited about it," he said.

However, the iron-rich water that was used in the park for 30 years has affected the plumbing in such a way that businesses aren't yet confident enough in the water quality to allow employees to drink it.

"We've got the water coming in and we're using it," said Gary Morningstar, plant manager at Foamex, a manufacturer of carpet padding. "But we're still using bottled water. We have to be concerned with the integrity of the lines we have here. All those years of high-iron content have taken their toll, and there's buildup. We're not sure if we're going to go to drinking city water."

Workers at SEMO Box and Spartech Polycom said the same thing.

Colleen Arnzen, sales service manager at SEMO Box, said the water used to smell like rotten eggs.

"You didn't even want to wash your hands," she said. "It was horrible."

Now the smell is better, she said. But she said she doesn't want to be the first one to drink it.

Saving money on filters

Though the businesses on Nash Road still have to make a decision on whether to use the water for drinking, it will help in other ways in the long run. With the iron-rich water, it was impossible to keep facilities clean and some companies, like Spartech Polycom, had to use expensive filtration systems to run their equipment.

Tim Simmers, director of operations at Spartech, has said he estimates his company will save about $75,000 annually on filtration costs.

However, Morningstar said the water bills will go up as a result of the upgrade and will cost Foamex tens of thousands of dollars per year.

The $647,000 project was subsidized with an $479,438 block grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Cape Girardeau was eligible for this only because Renaissance Aircraft, LLC, a small airplane manufacturer, brought its business to the airport.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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