Future of Roland water plant discussed

Todd Thorson, Staff Writer, tthorson@storycityherald.com

Engineer Forrest Aldrich of Veenstra & Kimm, Inc. was present at last Wednesday’s (Aug. 3) Roland City Council meeting to discuss the future of Roland’s drinking water plant. Council had recently requested that Aldrich conduct the analysis to see where things stand with the facility. Aldrich gave his opinion and possible options for the plant to see what direction the council wants to take with the building.

“The quality of water that the citizens of Roland are getting is a good, quality water,” he said. “There’s nothing that is in there that’s dangerous. None of the tests, according to Nathan (Hovick, Water/Wastewater Superintendent) are coming back with anything that would be a health concern.”

The plant is basically an iron (and manganese) removal plant, according to Aldrich. “Iron is what turns your laundry red if there’s too much present in the water,” he said. “A little bit of manganese can also turn your laundry black.” But both chemicals are safe to drink. The plant is also functioning properly with regards to adding chlorine and poly-phosphate to the water, which helps with water line coatings.

“The plant was built in the 1940s and is starting to show it’s age,” stated Aldrich. “But structurally, it’s in good shape. It does need some TLC (however). It doesn’t have a ventilation system, so there’s a little aerator in there that helps with sulfur products and (air) escape. There’s no ventilation for the humidity, there’s open water, and you get condensation in a lot of places. So it does need a new ventilation system.”

Aldrich also said that a new coat of paint would greatly improve the facility’s appearance and make it more presentable to the public.

“The public’s perception when you go into a drinking water plant is what it looks like on the outside is a reflection of the quality of water on the inside,” he said. “Roland’s quality of water inside is very good, but the outside could use some attention.”

Aldrich presented another option to the council, which would involve the building of a new water plant on a different site. The cost of a new plant would be approximately $1 million. He also explained that possible funding could be obtained for a project such as this, including a grant from the USDA or various block grants.

By electing to fix up and repair the existing structure the cost would be approximately $100,000 to $200,000, according to Aldrich, and that would include a ventilation system, painting and equipment replacement. The life span, obviously, of repairing the current facility would be more short term as opposed to a permanent fix of a new water plant.

Following the discussion, Aldrich’s recommendation to council was to do some improvements to the existing water plant. He doesn’t think the city needs to pursue a new water plant at this time. Possible grants were further discussed as well, if the city elected to go the “new” route in the future.

Council decided to allow Aldrich to pursue rehabilitation cost figures and update plans for the existing water plant. His plans will be presented at a future council meeting.