Person At Work: Juris Šaudiņš – Ērgļi Water Treatment Plant

We had the great privilege of spending time with Juris Šaudiņš on the very last Monday of operation at the Ērgļi water company, “ŪDAS”. For the past twelve years, since the water system was installed in 2010, we have enjoyed clean, delicious water supply to our kitchen and bathroom without ever really thinking about where it comes from. Maybe the only times we thought about it were those occasions when things went wrong – a leak, water turned off for repairs, loss of pressure, or when the colour and smell weren’t as great as we were used to. However, in just a couple of hours with Juris, we learnt all about the process of supplying us with clean drinking water and converting waste water to a fertile sludge that can be used on local farmers’ fields.

From the computer screen where the whole supply sytem is monitored and regulated, we saw how water is pumped from three 160 metre-deep boreholes, infused with oxygen that reacts with the iron which gives our rivers and lakes their characteristic rusty brown colour, enabling it then to be filtered in three large tanks full of sand specially imported from Austria and Germany. We learned how the sand has to be replaced every seven years; an expensive process.

The water then goes to two tanks, each with a capacity of 200 tonnes, from where it is pumped to our homes and workplaces. Seven pumps are available, in case of a sudden increase in demand, such as from the fire brigade, but usually one or two pumps are sufficient.

Waste water is pumped to the sewage treatment plant, where we were very surprised by the total lack of any unpleasant smells. Here, we heard about some of the incredible items that are caught in the filtration baskets, having been flushed into the system, including a 1.5 litre Coke bottle and a pair of trousers.We saw where the waste water is treated with bacteria, breaking the raw sewage down into sludge which is stored in pits where, in the Spring, tomato plants spontaneously start growing from seeds that have made their way through the system!

In October 2022, ŪDAS operations were taken over by Madona Water Company: the end of an era. Thank you to Juris and his team for all their hard work over the past decade!

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