The Breakdown: Why is it important to build on, replace, and upgrade Eudora’s Existing Water System?
March 09, 2021
The Eudora Community Water System is an interconnection of previously individual water systems: Eudora Water Association, Trinity Water Association, Delta Crest Subdivision, North MS Utility Company and Koko Reef Maintenance Association. When these systems were originally installed, it was with the mindset to provide drinking water in any way they could with the resources they had. The design of these systems was intended for individual subdivisions and small vacation houses, not with the intention of community fire protection or to expand from each individual water system. Fast forward to today, with an aging water system, where 2,800 to 5,000 square foot homes are common, and community fire protection is needed for these combustible homes. So where do we go from here?
The Eudora Utilities Association Board of Directors reviewed many options based on the condition of the existing infrastructure, its current life span and maintenance, and the addition of new infrastructure. Our water system has approximately 28 miles of water mains ranging in size of 1 ¼” to 8” and between the ages 1 to 58 years old. The water treatment plant was installed in 1968 when the system was under Eudora Water Association. The system then was a pressurized system. In 1996, North Mississippi Utility Company installed a 100,000-gallon elevated water tower and approximately 500 gallon a minute water well that is about 1400 feet deep. The 100,000 gallon water tower was connected to the existing 6” AC pipe that was installed in 1968 that feeds our water mains today. This converted the water system from a pressurized system to a gravity fed system. In 2011, North Mississippi Utility Company installed an additional 500 gallon per minute well about 1400 feet deep to handle increased capacity on the water system.
When we took over in 2016, we began inspecting the system closely, finding much needed maintenance and repairs. Our first new construction priority was installing on site back up generators. This was important that in the event of a power failure, we would still be able to operate one or both wells and the booster pump to inject chlorine into the water system to treat the water. In 2017 after following the bid process, we accepted a bid of $105,425.52 to install both large generators.
In 2018, we began working on installing additional fire hydrants, strengthening the pressure to the south end of our water system, and connecting to the Koko Reef Subdivision. Working closely with the Eudora Fire Department, we have installed 8 Fire Hydrants in strategic locations that had both the minimum volume and pressure needed in fire protection. For the south end of the water system, we had a bit of a hurdle. To give you an idea, water on Barbee Rd. was supplied from Bluff/Cub Lake Rd. For $63,094.59, EUA installed an 8” water line with fire hydrants from the intersection of Hwy 301/Sullivan down to the intersection of Hwy 301/Barbee Rd., crossing Wolf Creek. This not only gave consistent pressure to the south end of the system, but it also allowed EUA to connect to the Koko Reef Subdivision. During this time, the Koko Reef Water System had a significant deficiency on their water system and the repair/replacement to correct it would have caused a financial hardship. The EUA Board of Directors and the Koko Reef Maintenance Association worked together operationally and financially to add these approximately 60 customers to our system.
In 2019, we began working on a preliminary plan with the following points:
- The need for a new water tower with a capacity of 200,000 gallons or 300,000 gallons
- Upgrade both wells from 500 gallons per minute to 1,000 gallons per minute
- Upgrade the aging 4” to 6” water mains from our current tower to the future site of our new tower
- The construction of a new water treatment plant
The decision for the new water tower was based on our systems capacity and need for fire protection. Our design capacity is based on our systems ability to pump water out of the ground, treat it, and store it by the number of active connections we have to the system. Let us breakdown how our water capacity is figured and where we are at:
On March 2020, our pump test at each well indicated the following: Well #1 pumped 560 gallons per minute (GPM) and Well #2 pumped 536 GPM. That put our well capacity at 1,096 GPM. To figure out design capacity, we go by the following equation:
Design Capacity =Well Capacity+ Elevated Storage/200
(Maximum # of Connections on our system) = (Gallons per minute both wells can pump)+(How much our water tower can hold)/200
Design Capacity = 1096 GPM + 100,000 gallons / 200
Design Capacity = 1,596 Connections
On March 2020, we had 1,397 active water connections. To figure out the percentage of the design capacity we are operating at, we go by the following equation:
% of Design Capacity = # of Existing Connections/Design Capacity *100
% of Design Capacity =1,397/1,596*100
In March 2020, our system was operating at 88% of its design capacity. This puts us in danger that if we have catastrophic failure of a large main leak or multiple large leaks, that the system will not be able to maintain sufficient pressure or supply. Please also keep in mind, this is only based on drinking water and not fire protection.
On an average day, our water system uses 350,000 gallons of water or 14,583 gallons an hour. Our water tower is only 100,000 gallons. Our wells can pump 30,000 gallons an hour individually at intervals. In the event of mass usage of water or main breaks, we can pump both wells at the same to fill the tower at 60,000 gallons an hour. Again, this is based on everyday drinking water usage, not fire protection. If Eudora Fire Department responded today to a 5,000 square foot or larger house fully involved in fire, they would pump almost 500 gallons per minute in the first hour to extinguish and prevent it from spreading. At the same time, our system will still have to provide for daily pressure and volume for drinking water. This causes a tremendous strain on our current system and we would turn on both wells to maintain it. This must be done manually as there aren’t any remote controls and water employees would have to stay on site at the water treatment plant to ensure everything is balanced.
In choosing the tower site, we had to account for land availability, distance from the current tower, how the new tower would affect pressures to the existing infrastructure in that area, and path of growth. We had looked at areas around Bluff Rd. and Sullivan Rd., but the pressure from the new tower would have blown out the existing water mains in that area. We also looked at putting the tower in the same area as the current tower, but we felt that would not be beneficial. In the event of a Tornado or other inclement weather damaging one tower, we would want to be able to use the other to keep the system up. An opportunity to get the land at Baldwin and W. Commerce ended up being our best option as this provided our system with enough land for future placement of an additional well, this tower could be filled using the upgraded wells at the original tower site, and it was in our path of growth.
The water mains coming from the current tower were installed in 1968 (53 years ago) and they are 6” Asbestos Cement Pipe. Their life span is 50 years (which they have exceeded). With the limited volume of the water mains coming from the tower and the undersized mains in current subdivisions, it makes fire protection and, in some areas, drinking water difficult. We must begin the process of installing larger water mains starting at the current water treatment plant itself. We are planning to install 12” C900 water main, with fire hydrants at locations designated by Eudora Fire Department, from the current tower to the new tower site.
Our existing water treatment plant was installed in 1968. It has all the original electronics and pumps from the pressure system. The plumbing from the previous water treatment process of aeration and soda ash are still connected, but out of service. In 1996, North Mississippi Utility Company added controls for the water tower into the treatment plant and changed water treatment to chlorine and fluoride. We have encountered numerous electrical issues within the treatment plant and in the tower fill control system. In order to prevent any more failures in the future and to handle an increased treatment load, we are planning to construct a new water treatment plant at the well site, with new controls to the wells and both towers while demolishing the current water treatment plant. This will allow us to disconnect the pipes of the older treatment system (to prevent future breaks) and simplify the process of what lines are and are not active for future maintenance. We will also install controls that can be worked on the ground level rather than up in the water tower itself, allowing for faster maintenance and replacement of parts in emergencies.
During the time of us conducting preliminary planning, we were submitted with multiple new subdivisions planning to build in the Eudora area (St. Expedite Subdivision, St Brigid Subdivision, Riley Meadows Subdivision, and Eagle Bend Subdivision) and completion of homes in existing ones (Woodland Lake, Lake of the Hills, St. Joseph, Emerald Estates, Misty Meadows, and Highland Meadows.) Before we go any further, I want to explain that the new water mains and connections installed in new subdivisions are paid for by the Developer. The developer sends us a copy of the approved (by the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors) proposed subdivision CAD drawing to send to our engineer. Our engineer reviews the plan to ensure utility easements for right of way to install the water mains and then designs it based on the existing water main to the subdivision property and ensures it meets fire protection requirements. If the existing water main to the subdivision property must be upgraded, the cost is placed on the Developer, and only shared by the system if the EUA Board of Directors finds it benefits the community water system as a whole.
Once our engineer has designed the water system to meet all requirements, a preliminary estimate and contingency amount is sent back to developer to decide if it is feasible. If it is feasible, the plan is reviewed and approved by the Mississippi State Health Department, we receive quotes or bids on the project (depending on the estimated amount), and have the developer pay funds for the project before it begins. This ensures the customers on our system do not take on the financial burden if the project fails. Once the subdivision water system passes pressure test and health department testing, EUA takes ownership of the water line and its maintenance.
On November 17, 2020 at 6pm, Eudora Utilities Association, Inc. held a public hearing at the Eudora Fire Department for the purpose of receiving comments from the public on the proposed construction of water system improvements consisting of upgrading of existing wells, new water treatment plant, installation of a new 12” waterline and a 200,000- or 300,000-gallon steel elevated water storage tank. We can take the alternate bid for the 200,000-gallon tank if the 300,000 gallon tank exceeds our budget. The estimated cost with contingencies for this project is $1,980,000. The loan will be for 20 or 30 years at an interest rate of 1.95%. The motion passed unanimously to move forward with the loan process.
In conclusion, there is a strong need to upgrade, replace, and build onto our current community water system. We see issues all around our own state of water system failure, neglect, and turning a blind eye to much needed maintenance. The cost of this project is expensive but what is the cost to our community’s safety and access of drinking water if we do not?