COLUMBIA — A 5.5-mile long, $5 million water main loop is planned for construction in northeast Columbia by fall.
The Columbia Water and Light Department proposed budgeting $5.3 million from its enterprise reserve funds and 2008 revenue bonds in the 2014 Capital Improvement Plan draft, which takes effect Oct. 1.
About $850,000 of the money would be used for engineering and design, while the rest would go toward construction and the purchase of easements from property owners.
The 16-inch water main would run from the Stephens Lake Water Tower, along Heller, Rogers and Palmer roads and along Route PP to the Lake of the Woods Road. This area is north of Interstate 70 and just east of U.S. 63.
Along this route, the city will negotiate with 16 property owners for 36 permanent and 36 temporary easements. Connie Kacprowicz, utility services specialist at the Water and Light, said the easement acquisition is expected to cost between $250,000 and $500,000.
The permanent easements will be required where the actual water main is to be located so that crews can access the main to fix any future problems. Temporary easements will be used for construction purposes. The city ordinance outlining the list of easements is scheduled for a final vote by the City Council at its May 20 meeting.
Fred Martz, 77, and his wife, Donna, 75, own 450 acres of farmland where they raise cattle. The city plans to negotiate for a strip of that land about five feet wide and more than a mile long for an easement.
"It's one thing for the city to come across a lot in front of the house or something like that where they only go a few hundred feet but entirely a different thing when they want to come across a farm and put in a mile of pipe," Martz said.
This is the couple's first time negotiating an easement, and Martz still plans to research what this slice of prime grazing land is worth. He and his wife have seen the preliminary plans for the water main and attended a council meeting when it discussed various routes.
Martz thinks the increased water pressure and volume that a 16-inch pipe would bring to the area would facilitate development, but he knows the changes the pipe will bring.
"See, it's not just the water line that goes through this land, it's also an easement which gives the city the right to enter your land whenever they need to," Martz said. "It's an easement forever, and we have fencing and cattle and so on, and there's a certain amount of bother involved in all of that."
Kacprowicz said a 2008 long-range water study assessed the need to supply bulk water to the northeast part of the city.
"We do a series of different studies on the water side as far as projecting what the use is, make sure there's enough water to get it where it's needed by the customers," Kacprowicz said.
Kacprowicz said that after the department discovered a need for more water infrastructure, a 2008 bond issue paid for the addition of a water-pumping station in the area, on Hillsdale Road. Kacprowicz said it's now to the point where larger water transmission lines are necessary.
The department looks at water use overall, both commercial and residential, Kacprowicz said. When building a water system, the department has to plan beyond actual residential consumption. It also must ensure adequate pressure for firefighting and plan for loops that would be necessary if a water main breaks, so that the problem can be isolated without ending service.
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