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City to map out model of water distribution system

City Engineer John Fallis, City Administrator Steve Diers, and City Attorney Brad Sloter listen during a city council meeting on Monday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
City Engineer John Fallis, City Administrator Steve Diers, and City Attorney Brad Sloter listen during a city council meeting on Monday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
By Kelly Terpstra,

Is there stagnant water sitting in the pipes under Charles City? 

A global imaging system will soon find out that and much more about the city’s intricate underground network that sends water to its proper place.  

A better understanding of Charles City’s water distribution system will soon be mapped out after the city council approved a bid to have a model constructed of the two pressurized zones.

SEH, based out of St. Paul, Minnesota, will utilize the city’s GIS (global imaging system) to develop an accurate map to determine possible system improvements and how future changes may impact the operation of the water.

Water Superintendent Cory Spieker said the GIS system will shoot water into valves and hydrants to flow test them and then calibrate the whole model.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good project to have done,” said Spieker.

The city currently runs two elevated storage tanks or towers for its water system. SEH will construct a model of that system that can determine how long the water has been sitting in “dead end” or closed valves to help it run more smoothly.

Spieker said there is 4,000 feet of a 16-inch water main that is isolated on the high pressure-side of the water system.

“We could potentially move it out and eliminate some of those dead-ins — have a method to the madness, basically,” said Spieker.

Other scenarios that will be done are a simulation to see how the system works with a third water tower added, adding additional ground storage capacity and bypassing the treatment plant distributing water from the wellhead. Fire flow analysis and extended period simulations will also be done to determine the effect of the removal of a tank from the system.

Spieker mentioned that once the data comes back, potential upgrades could then be administered and the city will have a checklist of where to start.

Spieker also said the GIS water model will give the city an idea of what to expect if any new large industry or businesses come into town. The city would then know if it had enough water for fire protection for those companies and the water needs of those businesses should they move into the city.

Spieker stated that the Charles Street water tower is about 70 feet lower than the Corporate Drive tower. All industry on the high side or around the bike trail runs off the Corporate Drive tower, Spieker said. Inside the city limits or inside the bike trail, water is run off the normal, low pressure zone from the the plant at the Charles Street tower.

“This will kind of give us an idea if we can move the high pressure zone or if we can do away with it. Rather than us just going out and trying different things and experimenting, we’ll have some numbers to kind of back up any changes,” said Spieker.

SEH is contracted to do the work at a fee not to exceed $22,000. Spieker said there is $35,000 budgeted for the project.

The water department’s security camera and radio systems will also be upgraded after the council approved work for that to be done by Primex for $12,919.

The city water tower’s PLC’s (programmable logic control) have been upgraded and all have ethernet capability. Spieker said that the current radios that his department uses are obsolete.

“These radios give us the ability to change set points and to get consistent and constant information back to the towers,” said Spieker.

Other action taken at the meeting included:

– The council approved the city’s comprehensive plan which lays out the road map in how the city sees itself developing over the next 10-15 years.

– A first reading of the rezoning of the 500 North Grand Building from general residence district to multi-family residence district was approved.

– The city accepted the South Cedar Terrace Window Replacement Project as complete at the meeting. There was also one change order that was approved for the project as well.

– Duane and Pamela Davenport at 1700 North Grand Avenue are installing a new sump pump for their basement. They would like to utilize the city’s storm sewer system as an outlet for the sump pump discharge. The council approved this resolution.

The next city council planning session will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12.