Council hopes new water tower will increase pressure
The Baldwin City Council could be closer to ending the town's water pressure problems.
At the committee of the whole meeting Thursday night, the council directed the city staff to look at proceeding with the construction of two new 750,000-gallon elevated water towers. The two towers would raise water pressure throughout the town by 23 pounds per square inch. It would also increase Wellsville's and Edgerton's pressure. The council will vote on the proposed project at the May 6 city council meeting.
"I think that's the best possibility," said Council Member Todd Cohen of the construction of the two towers. "We're going to need it."
Utility Director Terry McKinney presented the council Thursday with three options for increasing Baldwin's water pressure.
The option the council is leaning toward is the construction of two new 750,000 gallon water towers. One would be built near the site of the new elementary school on the northwest edge of town and the other would replace the 1 million gallon ground storage tank at Signal Oak. The existing 200,000 gallon tank downtown would be decommissioned and demolished.
By building the two new water towers, McKinney said water pressure will be raised throughout the city by 23 PSI.
"It's going to increase pressure in the city and it's going to take care of the growth potential north of town," he said. "Everybody in town should see pressure increases and flow increase. In fact, most of the people in town are going to see twice the pressure they have."
McKinney said the estimated cost for the project is about $2.4 million, which would raise rates for customers from $4.47 per 100 cubic feet of water to $5.19.
"That cost is assuming Wellsville and Edgerton participate," he said.
Wellsville, he said, has agreed to set aside money to participate and Edgerton wants to see a presentation before it agrees to participate.
"The numbers don't include any financial contributions from USD 348, which we think there should be, but we don't have any numbers yet," McKinney said. "The cost should be shared with them to some degree."
If Baldwin is left paying the total cost for the towers, customers would pay nearly $10 more per month for water.
"It would be a dramatic impact on the residents of the city," he said. "In no way do we believe that will happen though."
Another option McKinney presented to the council was to develop a second separate water distribution pressure zone by building a new 500,000 gallon tower by the new elementary school. The downtown tower would be torn down.
While this would only cost about $1.4 million, he said only the west side of town would see an increase in pressure. McKinney also said that as development continued north of town around Signal Oak, pressure and fire flow problems would worsen.
A third option presented to the council was elevating the ground tank at Signal Oak by 50 feet and building a new 500,000 gallon tower at the new elementary school. The downtown tower would be torn down. The estimated cost for the third option is $1.8 million.
By raising the ground tank, McKinney said the two towers would be at the same height, increasing pressure to Baldwin as well as Edgerton and Wellsville.
But he said the ground tank, built in 1970, could need a new roof, which is not included in the estimated cost. He said poor water circulation in the ground tank could cause chlorine residual problems as well.
Both Mayor Ken Hayes and Council Member Ken Wagner said they thought the city should proceed with the building of two new water towers.
"I see that option as being the best," Wagner said.
If the council decides to build the two towers, McKinney said the one at the elementary school could be functional by August 2003, with the new Signal Oak tower completed a few months after that.
Whatever the council decides, Council Member Ted Brecheisen said something needed to be done soon.
"I think we ought to proceed with something," he said.