Water/sewer–Good, bad new$

By Marcie Klomp

Lime Springs City Council has been hit hard in the past year with current and future expenses in regards to the town’s water and sewer departments. At Sept. 3’s meeting, they were given some welcome good news from Public Works Director Casey Sebastian, only to be slammed with more bad news from City Engineer George Tekippe.

First the good news. Since being hired a year-and-a-half ago, Sebastian has been like a blood hound, sniffing out leaks in the water department. He has found several and said, “All the little leaks add up.”

When he started, some days the water tower pumped 150,000-200,000 gallons of water per day. “Some months were over four million gallons pumped.” August had just 2.3 million gallons for the month. That is 700,000 less than in 1990, 600,000 less than 1998 and probably a million less than a year ago! “Now we are pumping about 60,000 per day.”

The good news is two-fold. First, less water used means less money spent.

Secondly, when per day usage is over 100,000 gallons, water certification is at grade 2, which means more continuing education for Sebastian. It also means Lime Springs has been paying Tim Courtney from Cresco, who is grade 2 certified, to do on-site inspections.

Now that usage is under 100,000 gallons per day for the majority of the past four months, Lime Springs may be able to drop to grade 1 in October. Sebastian will continue to study for grade 2.

Don’t worry. The money saved by finding leaks already has a place to be spent. Tekippe told council a four-inch water main needs to be changed to an eight-inch main from Forest Street to West Street (from Anderlik corner to Tibbals corner). He admitted the work should have been done when the Travel Plaza went in over 15 years ago.

The four-inch pipe is too small to deliver water out to the corner quickly if needed. The issue came up when LimeSprings Beef engineers told Tekippe they wanted to install a sprinkler system in the plant that needed at least 500 gallons per minute capability.

After checking numbers, the city’s engineer found it was only 363 gallons—not good enough even for the Plaza, and LimeSprings Beef is further down the line. Tekippe admitted the figures were inaccurate when work was done to the Travel Plaza. He figured the results had been done by hand, and with rounding up and rounding down, the number came close to 500.

The solution will be to replace the smaller pipe with one twice as large. That would put the hydrant flow to 1,000 gallons per minute—”a dramatic change,” he said.

The cost will be around $45,000-50,000 to fix. Council members Kevin Bill asked, “Can this be added to any grants we receive?” Tekippe answered in the negative but did say it could be put on a Revolving Loan Fund.

Mayor Barb Robinson asked how soon it needed to be done and was told spring would be good enough, but the ball had to get rolling soon, to get permission from DNR and then let bids.

Tekippe said the work would only take about two weeks.

He revealed engineering fees are between $6,000 and $7,000. Bill asked if that number was negotiable. Tekippe responded, “I’ll negotiate, even at the next meeting.”

Another expense, although not nearly as much, is for a wastewater pump repair for a little over $2,000. Replacement cost would be closer to $10,000.

Long story short, again, the city of Lime Springs has taken a couple steps forward, only to be pushed back a dozen. Eventually the forward motion will be just that.

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