SOLON– One big shock to the system and hopefully all will be well.
The city’s fourth well will be put into production soon, if a large-dose shock chlorination treatment does what it’s expected to do.
Well No. 4 was substantially completed in February 2011, but delays in the construction of an associated project have kept it on the shelf, allowing bacteria to breed.
The bacteria do not present a health issue, according to Solon Public Works Director Scott Kleppe, but have created an odor.
“The water’s fine,” Kleppe said, “it just stinks.”
A chemical feed building, needed to provide minimal treatment to the well’s water before it enters the municipal supply, was supposed to be finished by September 2011. Multiple problems with the project’s contractors have dragged it out.
All at a time when it would be really nice to have that extra well up and going.
At last week’s meeting, Kleppe reported to city council members that the lack of recent rain had dramatically increased the demand for city water.
Daily usage by city residents had approximately doubled, to 300,000 gallons a day. The city’s water tower can hold 200,000 gallons.
Currently, the city relies on Well No. 3, located in the Old Mill Creek subdivision. Well No. 2 is at the city shop, but it has a lower production rate, Kleppe said. The city’s first well has been abandoned.
The city hasn’t had to officially restrict consumption, but Kleppe is asking residents to be mindful of their water usage.
A fourth well was recommended as part of a water study conducted by the city in 2007. At that time, engineer Dave Schechinger reported the city did not have adequate supply to replace its highest-capacity well, something required under guidelines established for water distribution and fire flow.
The wells are used to keep the water tower full, and the water tower feeds the mains circulating through town. When the water tower is drawn down to a certain level, a high-service pump at the water treatment center across town is turned on and begins draining its storage reservoir. When the reservoir is drawn down, the well pump kicks on to replenish it.
By spring of 2008, a new well site at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area was selected. A $204,835 contract for the well was awarded to Gingerich Well and Pump Service LLC of Kalona in July 2010 and it was finished seven months later. The bid for the chemical feed building went to Ricklefs Excavating of Anamosa in April 2011, after the city determined it would need the ability to treat the new well’s water with chlorine and flouride. It was decided to do so at the well site, as opposed to pumping all the way to the treatment plant. The cost approved by the city was $358,046.50.
The project has been complete for several months, but the long wait caused some strain on the relationship between the general contractor, subcontractors, a local utility company and the city.
Part of that boiled over into the June 20 city council meeting, when a change order came before the members for approval.
According to Schechinger, Change Order No. 3 for $6,440.20 included the cost of additional copper cable and a different modem for the chemical feed plant.
It also included $850 of down time for one of the contractors, which apparently accrued while the contractor was waiting for the telephone utility, South Slope Cooperative Communications, to switch out the previously mentioned equipment.
“This has been ridiculous,” commented council member Steve Stange, who went on record opposing the payment of down time to a contractor that was already behind on the project. “We’re spending extra money because of their lack of commitment to this project, in my opinion.” The $16,000 the city will have to pay for the shock chlorination of the well could have been caused by the contractor’s inaction, he said.
“I’m fed up with having to pay people because they don’t want to work,” Stange said. His motion to withhold the down time died for lack of a second, and the council decided to table the payment until a representative of the company could be present to explain.
Solon City Administrator Cassandra Lippincott indicated the change order payment was a compromise city staff had determined was the best way to keep good relations.
When the city initially refused the pay claim for down time, Lippincott said, the contractor billed South Slope, and South Slope came back to the city seeking that much and more.
She said there were conflicting reports from the contractor and South Slope, all having to do with equipment needed for the remote operation of the well.
The new well is expected to produce as much as 250 gallons per minute, Kleppe said. With remote operation in place, he said, the city will be able to run the new well and Well No. 2 (which produces about 170 gallons per minute) together. Well No. 3 would then be put into a rotation with the other two wells, each taking turns filling the water tower, he noted.
The software and hardware associated with the water supply will also be able to detect when the level drops in the aquifer, and automatically reduce the pumping volume as a result.
Because the city wanted a coordinated distribution system, he said, it required the contractor to work with a designated controls subcontractor, the same one that integrated the current software for managing municipal water.
Somewhere along the way, communications broke down, compounded, and the project “turned into so many hassles.”
But that was well after the general contractor had fallen behind. There were many days during the project’s duration when “nothing happened,” Kleppe said, and it was only when the city complained vigorously that the contractor responded.