Council votes to seek water station bids

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council voted to seek bids on a proposed water filling station last week.

Dave Trask and Greg Mahler voted against the motion, while Craig Fentiman, Mayor Jim Gourley, Scott McKee Jr. and Bruce Hobbs voted yes. Marybeth Angulo was absent.

The project started as an emergency filling station, listed as a long-term goal within the city’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2009. The plan was accepted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is necessary to receive funding from FEMA following an emergency.

As a permanent emergency facility, the station could supply water to all local residents as well as surrounding unincorporated areas at no charge whenever normal water supplies may be interrupted, said Public Works Director Mike J. Adams.

The project has been included in the city’s operating budget since the plan was approved, but has not been constructed.

Trask objected to the project during the city’s Budget Committee meetings last spring, and the Public Works Committee has been considering the project.

The committee identified four alternatives for the council, Adams said. First, it could move forward as proposed and solicit bids. Second, it could delay the project to fiscal 2014-15, which begins on July 31. Third, it could cancel the project. Fourth, it could identify another option and direct staff accordingly.

The project is designed with flexibility for relatively small quantities of water for domestic use as well as larger quantities for livestock and other uses, Adams said. It also is capable of filling water tankers, private RVs and fire suppression equipment.

Customers will be able to pay for the water on site with coins or a prepaid card, Adams said.

The usage will be metered, Adams said, and it will be protected from vandalism. The system will include a built-in backflow device as well as anti-freezing capabilities. The project will include a split-block building located at the Public Works maintenance shop off 24th Avenue. A looped driveway will provide access.

The engineering estimate for the project is $95,000, Adams said. Funds will be available from the water capital reserve fund and the systems development charge, which may only be used on new construction.

Trask said the city was moving forward with a lot of assumptions that the station would be able to pay for itself.

“This is an absolute waste of money,” he said. “If that was a big deal to FEMA, we’d have one in every city in the county.”

Yet, he added, he could only find a similar facility that is hardly used in Corvallis.

“It makes no sense to me,” Trask said.

Fentiman said he has heard the Corvallis filling station is used by contractors.

“In this town, we do have recreation,” he said. People come with RVs to the Jamboree and campgrounds. One or two people have contacted the city after hearing about the filling station, and they wanted to know how to use it.

“We’re focused on tourism,” Fentiman said. “I think this will be added opportunity.”

“It’s one more thing we can add to the jackpot of reasons to come here,” McKee said.

It will help protect the system from contamination and account for people using water, Adams said.

Mahler pointed out that the city could provide meters with backflow devices for use at fire hydrants to provide bulk water to customers.

“I’m worried about people not doing it right,” Adams said. “You have the possibility of people breaking your infrastructure. It’s not frequent, but it happens.”

It may not stop people from illegally tapping into hydrants for bulk water, Adams said, but it is an opportunity for them to get water the right way.

Trask asked what the odds are that people illegally taking water from hydrants are going to stop and start using the filling station.

Mahler said he favored postponing the project to fiscal year 2014-15.

Trask moved to cancel the project and adjust the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, but he received no second.

Fentiman moved, with a second from McKee, to solicit bids, with the motion passing 4-2.

In other business, the council:

n Reappointed Greg Korn to the Board of Appeals and appointed him to the Tree Commission.

n Held the first readings of ordinances relating to an increase in trash service rates and adjusting language in city ordinances, changing the word “infraction” to “violation” to match state law.