Quality of life, investment in the foundation

2013-02-24T00:00:00Z Quality of life, investment in the foundation nwitimes.com
February 24, 2013 12:00 am

Lake Station has been extremely busy in the past few years, bringing walking trails to the community, improving trash pickup services with a state-of-the-art collection system that other communities are now duplicating, erecting a green government complex that has consolidated services for residents as well as employees, constructing the Field of Dreams to provide sports fields for youth and adults, enhancing Grand Boulevard with lake restoration, and upgrading the city’s computer network enabling city departments to operate on a single internal network for better communication and efficiency. Think they are going to throw in the towel and call it a day? Think again! The City of Lake Station is moving forward and they have big plans as the future becomes right now!

Mayor Keith Soderquist says that top of the list for major projects as he enters the second year of his second term, is to bring a new drinking water treatment plant to the city. Over the years, the City’s Water Department has struggled with declining capacity, inadequate water storage, and water loss and water quality issues. In 2008, the City of Lake Station hired Indianapolis and South Bend, Ind.-based engineering firm American Structurepoint to evaluate its existing water distribution system. Kara Boyles, Ph.D., P.E., project manager for American Structurepoint, and her team studied the City's water system, parts of which date back to the early 1950s, and identified the necessary improvements that would enable the City to expand capacity, make major infrastructure improvements and improve its water quality. By conducting test drilling and performing hydraulic modeling in order to prioritize the City’s next 20 years of capital improvements, the City and American Structurepoint were able to prioritize projects critical to the long-term operation of the Lake Station Water Department.

Soderquist says, “We are always focusing on the quality of life and improving it for all of our residents, so a large project we are beginning, which is long overdue, is installing our water filtration plant. This will do several things. First, it will bring high-quality water to our residents. We’re putting in new water mains, connecting them to the filtration plant, and gutting water wells that will increase the water they can produce because they were built in the mid-1950s. So secondly, the filtration plant will also add the step of water softening before it is delivered to the residents.”

Dr. Boyles explains, “The drinking water treatment plant will be installed within a 5,300-square foot building located on Union Street, on property currently owned by the City. It will be equipped with a backwash recycle facility to recover spent backwash water and eliminate the need to discharge it to the City sanitary sewer system. Items such as this are considered green initiatives by SRF and give the City a credit toward interest rate reductions for the SRF loan. Additional green components include premium efficiency pump motors with variable frequency drives (VFDs). VFDs enable pumps to accommodate fluctuating demands, running pumps at lower speeds and drawing less energy, while still meeting the pumping needs.”

The drinking water treatment plant is expected to be constructed as two separate phases with two separate contracts to be bid out using the required state and federal bidding requirements—one began in November 2012 and the other in January 2013. Phase I improvements will include the new water supply wells, new groundwater treatment plant and water main improvements. Phase II will include storage tank improvements and additional water main improvements. The drinking water treatment plant is expected to be in full operation in 2014.

Soderquist says that the plant was a necessity for the city. “Our options were narrow. We could have sold our system to Indiana American Water who would build the plant and then charge the residents, or we could do it ourselves. We chose to do it ourselves, knowing we can save about 30 percent for our residents because we’re a municipal entity and not profit based,” he says.

Monies for the project were secured through loans through the State of Indiana for water improvement projects. Soderquist explains, “We secured over $11 million at an interest rate of just below 2 percent from the state, just for Lake Station. They loved our project and feel it is a good project and they must have rated us pretty highly for us to be fully funded.” This loan came through the Indiana Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and it allows the city to not only improve its aging water distribution system, but also includes the addition of the new 2.0 million gallon per day (MGD) drinking water treatment plant, which the City Council approved in April 2012. Part of the SRF loan will enable the City to begin a Water Recovery Program that will allow its Water Department to replace water meters throughout its entire distribution system, analyze and investigate leaks in the system and conduct a water loss audit. “It’s a huge win for us, says Soderquist.

The 2012 water improvements will include the construction of the drinking water treatment plant, five new groundwater supply wells, a new 500,000-gallon elevated storage tank, replacement of the booster station at the existing 1.5 million-gallon ground storage tank, installation of 16,000 feet of critical water distribution mains with larger-diameter water mains and the implementation of a water recovery program. In addition, the City will establish a fully automated supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which will transform the existing water distribution system from a manual operation to a fully automated system.

“Life in Lake Station is getting better every day,” Soderquist says. “A few decades ago we had a steady decline and we weren’t focusing on family life and since then we have improved our infrastructure and now people are coming here. It will continue to get better as we focus on families. People are engaging and getting back involved in the community. We’ve become a leader so that other communities look to us for the improvements we’ve made for our residents.”

For more information:

City of Lake Station

Mayor’s Office

1969 Central Ave.

Lake Station, IN



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