Troubles with Warsaw’s infrastructure came under scrutiny during last week’s town council meeting.
Starting with two local lift stations that each needed pump replacements, as well as a suction line at the facility near the new little league park, Town Manager John Slusser said that problems with utilities seemed to have stolen the limelight in recent weeks.
“Our sewage system has been rather cantankerous lately,” Slusser said during the Oct. 11 meeting. “But, our guys are on top of it and to my knowledge no one has suffered any inconveniences as a result.”
However, a larger problem was revealed when Councilman Ogle Forrest detailed updates from a recent utility committee meeting, resulting in officials approving the bidding out of $400,000 in necessary infrastructure upgrades.
According to Forrest, nearly 18 months ago, the town’s Well #3, located near China Inn on Route 360, failed.
And, in a water system capital improvement plan draft that was just released by town engineers Resource International, it is a situation that must be immediately addressed.
“[S]ince that well failed, we thought we could buy some time and it wouldn’t be a critical thing, but we have had some circumstances come up that have changed my thinking, as well as others, to that we do not need to wait on this,” Forrest said. “We need to act upon this and get another well drilled.”
Forrest added that although the town has three other wells, Well #1, the oldest, is pumping only 115 gallons per minute and #2 is rated at 240 gallons a minute, with Well #4 four the only current full-strength water supplier at 400 gallons per minute.
“We are down on our capacity,” Forrest said. “The citizens of our town right now have no worries. We are fine with water, but it is not a comfortable position to be in to have well number three not there.”
He added that preliminary cost estimates from the engineer came in at approximately $340,000 for a new well.
“This is something that we need to move upon, we can’t put this off,” Forrest said.
“Under the best of circumstances Well #4 would be able to handle all the needs of the town but we know from experience about Murphy’s Law and what happens when things go wrong,” he said. “We [must] have redundancies, something built into the system to cover us. We don’t want to have a situation where we cannot supply [users’] needs.”
Slusser added that in addition to the new well, the 12” valves at #4 were not fully closing due to a manufacturing design flaw from a company that is no longer in business.
We had trouble with a leak and we have had an awful time trying to get the water to stop to repair the leak because these valves have failed,” Slusser said. “That needs to be considered also.”
Council passed a motion to proceed with the bidding process to dig a new well near the current #3 site and seek the necessary financing up to $400,000, which Slusser expects to secure through tax exempt loans.
He also noted possibility of paying off those notes through a larger bond issue in the future, when the town pursues further infrastructure upgrades to the water system.
Slusser added in a follow-up interview that the new well would not be a burden on taxpayers, but that if the town could not increase its system through the addition of new users, it could result in higher bills.
“We need to grow as a town so that all our rates do not increase,” Slusser said. “We are on a collision course between idealism and reality but we are working to make sure that all of the town’s citizens are going to come out whole.”