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Riverside water plant marks 58th anniversary
Randy Eldridge, left, with Gainesville Public Utilities, explains Friday to Nathan Wade how the instruments and computers in the Riverside Water Treatment plant monitor the workings of the plant during an open house tour. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

Fairly little has changed in the process of water treatment in over the decades.

The Riverside Water Treatment plant, which marks 58 years, is a testament to that.

Gainesville Public Works Department held an open house Friday with tours at the facility. Guides explained how clean water comes to Hall County’s faucets from Lake Lanier, through multiple steps of filtration with chemicals and with old-fashioned means like gravel and coal.

“They’ve changed some stuff and switched some chemicals, but it’s the same idea they’ve had since they used logs for pipes,” said Randy Eldridge, a Gainesville water plant operator, who conducted the tours.

And now, technology also allows computer systems to monitor water purity.

The current treatment plant, built in the 1950s, isn’t actually the original plant. Near the big concrete structure used to be another, smaller plant built in 1936. That plant was torn down and flooded when Lake Lanier was built.

But Eldridge said that when lake levels are particularly low, you can still see the pipes from the original structure.

The Riverside plant occasionally holds open houses. Tours can also be scheduled by calling 770-536-5722.