New water plant goes online in Chaffee

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Residents of Chaffee now are drinking water from a new water plant.

While the entire project is several weeks from completion, city administrator Lee Horton said the biggest challenge during the project has been making sure the water lines and meters were installed with minimal service interruption.

"We have not had to issue any boil water orders because of the way the lines were laid in and how the valves were placed," Horton said.

He also credits that with the city having two wells and two tanks that provided constant water pressure.

Replacing the water system was made possible through low-interest loans awarded in 2012 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development.

The price of the new water system was about $6.2 million.

While residents have complained about unsightly holes, mounds of dirt and street cuts, Horton said once all the meters are placed, contractors will smooth, reseed and lay down straw where digging has occurred.

About 600 of the nearly 1,200 meters to be placed are in the ground and functioning. Horton expects the rest to be installed by early December.

The new meters are easier to read and help workers identify leaks more easily. Reading time is reduced, and water bills should be more accurate.

Mayor Steve Loucks said readers drive by the meters, and accuracy is paramount.

"These meters and the method in which they are read can detect even minor water leaks and the exact amount of water usage at all times of the day," Loucks said.

Horton said he has received no complaints since the new water treatment plant went online about three weeks ago. He said residents with older homes containing metal water lines may not be able to tell a difference.

Also being funded by low-interest USDA loans is the rehabilitation of Chaffee's sewer system. Camera inspection and cleaning of existing sewer lines began in September.

The inspections will allow the engineering firm designing the sewer project, Schulz Surveying and Engineering, to see what mains or manholes need to be replaced and which ones need to be only relined. Horton said what the inspection shows so far is most mains will need to be only relined.

The sewer project will cost about $2.6 million, which includes the replacement or relining of sewer mains and manholes and replacing the sewer treatment lagoons.

Once cleaning and camera inspection are finished, Visu-Sewer of Missouri LLC will begin smoke testing lines.

A letter sent to Chaffee residents from the city said the sewer-line testing will provide information to engineers on how to reduce inflow and infiltration into the system.

The letter explained to residents a dense grayish/white smoke used for testing "may appear from cracks in the pavement above the sewer, from lawns, or around homes which have foundations drains connected to the sewer."

Horton said he hopes the testing can begin soon, but smoke testing must be done during dry weather. The inspection also must be completed within 90 days of the start, which was the week of Sept. 18.

Once the inspections are complete, the information will be sent to engineers to design the rest of the project. Bids then can be obtained from contractors for the projects.

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