City begins water master plan effort

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SANDPOINT — An aging water system and continued growth in the area has prompted city officials to initiate a water system master planning effort.

With the last plan dating back to 2006, prior to the construction of the water treatment plant on Lake Pend Oreille in 2012, city engineer Dan Tadic said it is time to take another look at the system.

“in alignment with council’s strategic priorities, we want to delve back into this, looking more pointedly at our distribution infrastructure and develop needs, Identify priorities, costs, etc., and come up with possibilities for funding,” Tadic said.

The master plan will serve as a framework for determining what portions of the system will need repairs over the next 20 years, whether the system has the capacity to serve current and future growth, and if the city is positioned to continue meeting regulatory requirements.

To help fund the $146,000 planning process, Sandpoint was awarded a $45,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Residents get their drinking water from two sources, including the 2012 lake plant as well as the Sand Creek treatment plant constructed in 1965. The Sand Creek plant produces up to 4.6 million gallons per day, Tadic said, and the lake plant can produce up to 10 million gallons per day. On average, he said, daily demand is about 5.3 million gallons per day.

“One interesting fact about the little Sand Creek plant is there is actually a hydro generator at that location which is actually producing power, versus at the lake plant where we have to pump water from the lake,” Tadic said.

Every four years, Tadic said, the American Society of Civil Engineers produces an infrastructure report card. The nation’s water infrastructure was recently graded as a D, he said. Sandpoint’s aging infrastructure, he said, is evident in the number of leaks, resulting in reactive repairs.

“In 2018 we experienced over four dozen leaks between mains and service lines,” Tadic said. “That’s quite a bit of patching in our roads and reactive repair work. We also lose a lot of water in the system … Hopefully we are able to glean a little more information on that from our master plan.”

Also, he said, due to the continued growth, there is a lot of demand for water in the system, as well as demand on the infrastructure.

On Wednesday, City Council members approved an agreement with Murraysmith, an engineering firm in Spokane, to complete the master plan. City staff will work with Murraysmith to assess the condition of the existing system, estimate future water demand, analyze performance of the hydraulic modeling, integrate data with the city GIS, develop a capital improvement plan with project priorities and costs, and ultimately produce a comprehensive master plan in accordance with Idaho statutes, which will then be submitted to IDEQ for review and approval.

Murraysmith is slated to complete the master plan by September 2019.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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