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DNR gives City of Solon green light for GSR project

New grant sought for generator

SOLON– For a long time, Solon’s water storage has been up in the air.
It’ll soon be coming back down to earth.
For the last two years, the City of Solon has been working to address the growing demand placed on its water distribution system with the construction of a new ground storage reservoir (GSR).
The 400,000-gallon water tank would be located on 0.6 acres of land adjacent to the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA) which the city purchased from St. Mary Catholic Church at a price of $25,000.
The process inched closer to construction last week when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ State Revolving Loan (SRL) Fund announced a finding of “no significant impact” for the city’s application.
The environmental assessment was one of many steps required for the city to access funding for the project.
The assessment included a review of the measures taken to assess the potential impact of the new tank, including a public hearing at the June 15 city council meeting (no comments were received) and the seeking of comments from a number of other state and federal agencies.
The report examined possible impacts due to construction, historical or archaeological interests, current and future land uses, and a host of environmental factors, from interference with open spaces to endangered species.
It was determined the project had no anticipated adverse effects.
The estimated price of the project has been pegged at $1.646 million for the construction of a 50-foot diameter reservoir, an electrical generator and a booster pump station. It also includes engineering costs and an additional 12-inch water main from Racine Avenue to the storage site.
The city had been considering adding extra water line in front of the Solon High School to help improve the water supply to the new middle school, but Public Works Director Scott Kleppe reported the current flow levels were adequate to serve the new school’s requirements.
There is still design work to complete, and City Engineer Dave Schechinger is also investigating additional grant funds to help pay for the cost of a generator, but City Administrator Cami Rasmussen indicated she was “hopeful” the project could be ready to bid within a month.
At the city council’s July 20 meeting, Rasmussen said the new grant opportunity could cover 75 percent of the generator’s $100,000 cost. The impact of the grant on the bidding process, she added, was not known.
The original schedule for construction projected design to be completed by October and bids accepted in December of 2015 for construction in spring of this year.
But the first the land purchase and then the review process have stretched the timeline out.
Back in December of 2104, council members followed the recommendation of a subcommittee and voted to proceed with a GSR near the city’s fourth well at the SRNA. The group reviewed options for both ground storage and a water tower, as well as practical sites for each.
Water towers are not dependent on electrical controls, but are expensive to maintain, have specific site requirements and can take a long time to build.
GSRs have lower maintenance and can be built faster, but require a booster station with standby power to pump water into the city system.
The city’s current water tower has a capacity of 200,000 gallons, but that’s not enough to meet either the average-day demand requirements for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or fire flow requirements.
The water report, a prerequisite of the SRF application process, stated Solon’s average daily water use increased from 126,294 gallons per day in 2010 to 161,667 gallons per day in 2014.
The SRF program allows municipalities to plan and design major projects like water storage, wells and wastewater facilities using zero-percent interest loans that have no initiation or servicing fees. The zero-interest design phase loan can then be rolled into an SRF construction loan, offered at very low interest rates.