Residents will not only find their water pressure and capacity rising, but their monthly water bills will be rising about 35 percent as well.
In a recently held bond election, 91 voters approved an approximately $1.5 million water system upgrade, while only three dissented. City Councilman Keith Broadhead, who spearheaded efforts to get the project moving and to get funding for it, called the vote an overwhelming mandate of support."Well, obviously the council is pleased because we think this is something the city's needed for quite some time."
The project will upgrade the city's water storage capacities and pipeline system and redevelop its spring sources. No-interest loans from both the Utah Safe Drinking Water Committee and the State Division of Water Resources (both for $765,000) will pay for the improvements.
To pay for those loans, the city must raise its current water-usage base rate (metered for the first 10,000 gallons used) from $10.55 to $13.95. Also, the 50-cent charge for each additional 1,000 gallons used will be raised to 60 cents.
Broadhead said the city is also pursuing $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant money - federal grants given to low- and middle-income housing areas for capital improvements. Should the city receive those funds, those rate increases would be significantly lowered, he said.
Initial engineering on the project should begin immediately and will take two to three months, Broadhead said. Then the city will seek bids from construction firms, which might take as much as a month.
"We're talking about early June as the starting date for the project, and without engineering, we can't say exactly when it will be finished."
The city obtains its culinary water from seven springs in Santaquin Canyon, located almost 21/2 miles from the city. Santaquin has three storage tanks, one holding 500,000 gallons and two others totaling 260,000 gallons. That storage must be increased by 230,000 gallons to serve the existing sources, Broadhead said. When the project begins, a 1 million-gallon storage tank will be built, at a higher elevation than the other tanks, to serve the entire city.
Also, the city pipeline will be upgraded to the same standards as the northeast end of town, which was upgraded about 10 years ago. The standard pipe size for the system will be 6-inch diameter piping, he said.
"Our pipes are just too small right now - they range from 6-inch to 1-inch piping, and probably average about two inches in diameter."
The inadequate pipe size could be contributing to the substantial system leakage (between 20 to 30 percent) the city is currently experiencing, Broadhead said.
"In times of drought, you just can't allow that much leakage."
In addition, the canyon springs must be redeveloped to meet State Health Department standards, and a new well will be drilled and equipped.
Residents were allowed one vote per water connection. Of 720 eligible voters, 94 residents (13 percent) turned out during the weeklong bond election. Though city officials were disappointed in the low turnout, the final results were encouraging, Broadhead said.
"We didn't hear anything negative about the project during the public hearings we held - nobody was flat-out against it, and the results pretty much showed that."