Study helps city plan ahead

By Sarah Pridgeon

As the city’s Level 1 Water Study draws closer to completion, a clear picture has appeared of the weaknesses in the water system and the work that will be needed to improve them. The study has created an overview of the system and identified several projects that will improve both the distribution of water and its quality.

“This study has been a win-win for everybody – it’s a map for moving forward,” says Larry Schommer, Public Works Director. “It gives the Water Development Commission the knowledge to know that the funding we ask for will be used properly. It helps us as a town to know the projects are the correct step forward.”

“It’s good for growth because the hydraulic model can be used by developers to see what their construction will do to the rest of the system even while their plans are still on paper. And it’s good for residents so they know how the projects will affect them.”

The first and potentially highest priority project has been dubbed the Cole Transmission Project and will aim to create a clear line of flow between two of the city’s water tanks. There is currently no straight line between the Cole Tank and the tank at Mount Moriah, so the water spiderwebs out around town before it fills the latter.

This leads to the Mount Moriah tank not being filled adequately, which is a major concern for fire protection. It can also affect the water pressure for residents of the canyon and Sundance West.

The South Zone Backbone Project is a match in terms of priority. It will address issues with the water lines that run under the interstate from the tanks on the south side and solve the problem of inadequate water flow from those tanks into town.

Currently, there are two parallel lines and both are undersized. Back pressure from the distribution lines is causing the second line to act like a straw, pulling the water backwards.

“We’ll need to pull them out using a method called pipe bursting because it’s much better than digging up the interstate,” says Schommer. “We’ll then need to upsize the pipe from the interstate into town.”

The third project is known as the Blue Zone Project and involves the water line from the interstate tanks to Cleveland Street.

“Right now, the city is set up on two zones, north and south,” says Schommer. “We want to loop them together to create more of a backbone transmission that will fill the tanks on the south side and create more even distribution and improve water quality.”

A line does exist along this route but, again, is undersized. It has not been possible to create a loop before now because the tanks must be prepared beforehand to prevent pressure problems on the south side of town.

“We’re trying to tie all the tanks together because they would work more cohesively. The system would be more reliable and it would ensure that we don’t have stagnant water sitting in them,” says Schommer.

The fourth project is referred to as the Polisky and Blue Transmission Project and will work in tandem with the third for an end result that will even out water distribution and pressure around town and help with fire suppression. The two tanks, Polisky and Blue Aqua, work together to supply the south zone of town, while the remaining city tanks supply the north zone.

“In essence, if we redesign the transmission between the two lines and to go under the interstate, it will improve the water distribution to the south side, even out the water pressure and distribution around town and be key for fire suppression and good for residents,” says Schommer.

The fifth project completes the loop and is known as the North Zone Backbone Project. It will involve upgrading the line that runs the length of the town parallel to Cleveland Street and then hooks in with the south part of the loop.

The final project is part of the Blue Zone Project but not as vital, says Schommer. It will create a water line through Fuller Road, where the new Croell headquarters will be located, to create an outside loop for the industrial side of town.

The Level 1 Master Plan also identified a problem with the tanks themselves that affects the city’s water quality.

“All the tanks except the Cole Tank have one line going into them, so the inlet and outlet is shared,” explained Schommer. “This creates layers inside the tank and the top layer stays and floats, becoming stagnant.”
There are several potential ways to fix this issue with varying costs and difficulties. The tanks could be re-plumbed to have both an inlet and outlet; mixers could be installed to spin the water at all times and push the bottom layer up; or a baffling system could be added.

The mixer is the preferred option, though expensive; the city has seven tanks and each would cost in the region of $30,000. In the meantime, the study has made the Public Works Department aware of the problem, so interim steps can be taken to avoid it.

“For now, we can watch water usage and overfill the tanks,” says Schommer. “This pushes the top layer out, flushing the tank without draining it.”

Once the Level 1 Master Plan is deemed complete and the end product is delivered in July or August, the next step will be to initiate Level 2. The second phase looks at a redefined priority list and cost analysis.

“It’s up to the Water Development Commission to press the go button,” Schommer says. “We’ve received 100 percent of the funding for this from them. It was approved so that, when we start improving the water system, we do it right. There are adverse effects to upgrading without a plan.”

Level 2 will take a deeper look at the issues that Level 1 identified, while the third and final phase, Level 3, will be construction of the different projects. The entire process could take up to 10 years to complete.

Nevertheless, the first part of the study has already brought benefits, says Schommer, through helping the system’s operators set up a proper maintenance program and improving record keeping on the managerial side, which will be important when the five-year sanitary surveys occur.

A large version of the project map is available to view at City Hall. Further information can be sought from Schommer, who welcomes any and all public input on the study.