City anticipates major water-supply charges

Dennis DalmanPrint Sartell - St. Stephen, Sartell – St. Stephen0 Comments

by Dennis Dalman

The water-treatment plant on the east side of Sartell may be doomed to demolition, which is a likely outcome as part of the city’s proposed short- and long-term Comprehensive Water Plan.

Constructed in 1992, the plant is the oldest of Sartell’s three treatment plants. It would cost up to $2 million or perhaps more to make necessary updates and renovations, the council learned. Besides, the city’s other two water-treatment plants (one in the northwest, the newest one in the southwest) will be able to handle water demands for residents and businesses on both sides of the river, at least for the short term.

The water plan was outlined for the city council at its last meeting by Mark Wallis, an engineer with the city’s contracted engineering firm of Short, Elliott, Hendrickson Inc.

The three water-treatment plants each draw water from three wells – nine wells altogether. The treatment plants, through a chemical process, remove minerals from the water – mainly iron and manganese. The treated water is then distributed via pipes to the city’s water delivery network. In addition, there are currently three water towers in the city.

Wallis said the Comprehensive Water Plan study considered two factors: a primary growth area and a secondary growth area. The first is the central area of Sartell that is now highly developed; the second is the area around the city in which development – residential, business, industrial – has been happening and is expected to accelerate as the population of Sartell (now 20,800) continues to grow. Wallis said the city must anticipate that growth and start making changes to the water system in preparation for water needs brought about by growth.

Among the changes likely to be required are the drilling of three new wells; a hydrogeologic study before wells are drilled; the possible decommission of the east treatment plant; additional piping to deliver more water from the west side to the east side, and improvements to the northwest treatment plant. The latter is the most expensive one to operate because the water it pumps from wells there is high in manganese.

Wallis noted drilling of wells in the Sartell area has always been something of a challenge, and that is why hydrogeologic studies are essential – to pre-determine the best places to drill for water, for the three new planned wells.

So far, water pressure throughout the city is adequate, Wallis noted, except for a north area at Blackberry Ridge where the pressure is less than ideal. Wallis also noted that if the east plant is shut down, there would be adequate water for firefighting anywhere in the city, west or east of the river.

Currently, a typical water-usage day in Sartell consumes 2.4-million gallons of water, Wallis noted. An extreme peak day, such as a very hot period, can use as much as 5.8-million gallons, he added.

If the east plant is shut down, the functions at the northwest and southwest plants would be expanded, Wallis told the council. There would also be expanded water storage on the east side.

Changes in the water system will cost $58 million or more during the next 15 or so years, Wallis noted. It could be paid for largely through water-access charges, development-project charges, water-trunkline fees and water-usage billings.

After hearing Wallis’s presentation, the council voted 4-0 (council member David Peterson was absent) to approve a feasibility study for water-storage plans and to begin hydrogeoloic studies for future wells. Those are the vital first steps that must preceded other anticipated changes.

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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