Improvements to the City of Brazil's water system may begin in the upcoming months.
On Tuesday, the Common Council of the City of Brazil passed a plan for improvements to the system, and the Board of Public Works and Safety entered into a contract with Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering (HWC), Terre Haute, for services to be provided with the projects.
The council conducted a public hearing May 4 to review a preliminary engineering report from HWC Professional Engineer Brian Pohlar, which recommended seven projects, including the construction of a new 750,000 gallon water tower.
According to the report, the initial proposed site for the new tower would be near the intersection of Murphy Avenue and United States 40, but Pohlar told The Brazil Times, an exact location has not been set.
"There are a number of options for the placement of the tower, none of which have been finalized at this time," Pohlar said. "However, the intersection of Murphy and U.S. 40, near the former MI building, would be a good spot for it because it would be near the 18-inch water main on U.S. 40."
One of the other projects included in the report is to connect the 18-inch main to a 12-inch main on Murphy Avenue, which could allow for better water flow to more customers.
"The main on Murphy currently dead ends at the intersection," Pohlar said. "By connecting it with the line on U.S. 40, it will form a loop that will not only allow for better water flow and pressure, but also extend the live of the mains because the looping will cause the system to be continually flushed."
Pohlar added there are three other projects focusing on the improvement of water distribution within the city.
"This includes replacing some of the small mains with 6-inch lines, replacing the 12-inch main on White Rock Road and constructing a new $250,000 gallon elevated storage tank and booster station near Interstate-70," Pohlar said. "These were all major areas of concern and replacing the small lines will also allow for better fire protection in residential areas."
Council member Pat Heffner said she has heard concerns the city will focus its efforts on developing the I-70/State Road 59 area, but wants to assure residents this is not the case.
"There are multiple projects that need to be done and developing the I-70 area is a great idea," Heffner said. "However, we are not going to take care of I-70 before we take care of the city."
Pohlar added although there is a proposed project for the I-70 area, city projects are the focus of the plan.
"The city is definitely the main priority," Pohlar told The Brazil Times. "There are multiple projects with definite need that go well above and beyond just a few leaks."
According to the report, there were a total of 45 leaks on water mains in 2007 and 2008, which has contributed to an elevated water loss ratio for the city.
"The ideal amount of unaccounted water flow is about 15 percent, but the city averaged a loss ration around 50 percent in 2008," Pohlar said. "Unaccounted water flow can come through a variety of ways including places without meters, unknown leaks and water lost from hydrants when the fire department is fighting a fire."
Pohlar added approximately half of the city's estimated 4,500 water meters are more than 10 years old and about 1,440 are more than 20 years old.
"Water meters start to lose their accuracy after 10-15 years," he said. "This could be another component as to why the city's water loss ratio is so high."
To combat the water loss issue, Pohlar suggested replacing some meters on a yearly basis, even though it was not one of the proposed projects.
However, to maintain production volume and keep up with the average daily demand for water, one of the proposed projects is to construct a new water well.
"The city's water source is currently coming from four active wells in Putnam County," he said. "The existing wells are aging and also need to be repaired to regain their pumping capacity. The additional well will help to increase the amount of water coming to the city as well as the pressure."
The seventh of the projects included in the report is a monitoring system upgrade to the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.
Pohlar said the improvements would allow for better reporting efficiency at the water treatment facility, along with quicker response to alarm conditions.
"Basically, it will be a better system with an increased capacity to detect leaks and pressure drops," he said.
The estimated costs for the projects, which Pohlar said included potential inflation increases, is $4,088,000, with an estimated additional $707,500 for engineering, potential land acquisitions and other compensation.
Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw said the projects would be partially funded through the recently instituted water rate increases.
"The rate increases also allow us to pursue additional funding through grants, which we are currently in the process of reviewing the best options," she said. "We are also hoping to receive some stimulus money, but there are so many restrictions and the city is looking in many different directions and hoping for the best."
West Central Indiana Economic Development District Economic Development Specialist Jim Coffenberry said the stimulus is being tricked down through existing programs like the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. He jokingly added "the rules are also in pencil."
Despite potential issues receiving stimulus funding, Bradshaw told The Times it is imperative to start working on improving the city's water system as soon as possible.
"I feel positive that we will be able to get the work done, but we want to make sure it is done right," she said. "This has been a long time coming."
According to the plan, the proposed time schedule for work to begin would be January 2010, with an anticipated completion date to be around January 2011.
Current system information
The following are details about the setup of the current water system for the City of Brazil, according to a report completed by Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering, Terre Haute:
* System is supplied by four active wells in Putnam County,
* The Water Treatment Plant has two 900,000 gallon ground storage tanks and pumps the water to the distribution system by three high service pumps,
* Existing 750,000 gallon elevated tank is in poor condition and rusting,
* Approximately 496 water hydrants (about 46 of which are not operational) and 509 water valves,
* Approximately 353,479 (67 miles) of water mains, and
* Approximately 4,500 total commercial, industrial and residential water meters.