Engineers propose alternatives for Mt. Pleasant water improvements
By Angela Marx Thompson
MT. PLEASANT—A engineer from Sunrise Engineering talked over alternatives for increasing the culinary water supply with the Mt. Pleasant City Council at a council meeting Jan. 29.
Robert Worley said that as of 2016, the city needed to be generating 1,334 gallons per minute to be in compliance with a state requirement that cities grow their water supply at 1.2 percent per year.
Mt. Pleasant is producing 1,270 gallons per minute, a shortfall of about 64 gallons per minute. But that was in 2016. Since the state is looking for the culinary supply to increase every year, the shortfall is undoubtedly larger today.
Worley went on to outline the five alternatives for solving the problem:
- Alternative 1 (not recommended): Do nothing. Worley said this option would effectively end the city’s ability to grow in population.
- Alternative 2: Treat water from Sneak Springs. The city once used that source but had to discontinue the use because the water from the springs was coming in contact with water from the surface. Alternative 2 included drilling a new well.
Worley described three scenarios for implementing Alternative 2.
- Alternative 2.1 would use the existing conveyance for Sneak, Barton and Coal Fork Springs. Water from all three sources and put all of the water together, which would mean all of the water would be required to be treated. A treatment facility would be required and would have to be running at all times.
- Alternative 2.2 would divert Sneak Springs into Coal Fork Creek to convey the water to a treatment plant. Worley said a potential advantage to this scenario would be that the treatment facility would only have to be run when the water from Sneak Springs was needed.
- Alternative 2.3 would be to construct a new pipeline, isolate Sneak Springs, and treat that water separately. This was the preferred scenario two years ago and, again, has the advantage of only needing to run the treatment facility as the water is actually needed. The pipeline would need to run an estimated 2.5 miles.
The other three alternatives were:
- Alternative 3 would be to treat water from Sneak Springs and divert water from Pleasant Creek for additional capacity. It was noted that Pleasant Creek is currently being used for irrigation.
- Alternative 4 would leave Sneak Springs alone and focus on drilling two new wells.
- Alternative 5 would develop a new spring in Sulfur Springs Canyon area and also drill one well for additional water. Testing is underway to determine the actual viability of this alternative. There is a risk that once development is complete, that the same challenge with surface water could exist in the new spring. This alternative would also require the city to secure additional water rights.
Councilman Kevin Stalling noted that the option of drilling at least one well was attractive because there would be no need to treat the well water.
It was also noted that the well by the city’s cemetery was a “good producer,” but that it had been necessary to close off the top 100 feet to avoid contamination.
There was much discussion of the feasibility and the costs associated with building and maintaining a water treatment facility. While treating existing water is the safest option, Worley said, it is also the most expensive.
Council members agreed that if a water treatment facility were ultimately needed, it should be built in a place and at a scale to make it possible to treat multiple water sources, if necessary.
Worley indicated that all of the available options had been “scored” with respect to logistics, potential cost and impact on the community.
Alternatives 2,.3 and 5 were “tied” as being the most feasible at this juncture. Worley stressed that these alternatives and their prospective costs and impacts are very preliminary.
Worley briefly identified the grant opportunities Sunrise was exploring. He said there are programs for water infrastructure development that provide up to 75 percent of projected costs in the form of grants.
The council appeared to agree that Sunrise should continue identifying locations for at least one new well and continuing to test development of a new spring.
Council members said growth of the city was inevitable, and at some point, additional water would be required.
No work could begin before spring, But by May, the engineering team will need additional direction.
A follow up discussion is planned at a work meeting Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.