City presents water roadblocks, on track for line improvements
The city of Graham gave an update Thursday during a city council meeting regarding their water improvement plan timeline and the current status of their water improvement projects. The city has made progress with various projects after having roadblocks since 2015.
The timeline was presented before the board during their second budget workshop held Tuesday. Water issues have been a topic of discussion in the city recently with the entity working to address concerns regarding water problems.
The timeline starts when City Manager Brandon Anderson began working for the city in June 2015 and inherited the burden of a $14.6 million bond project for the water treatment plant. According to previous editions of The Graham Leader, the process to renovate and improve the water treatment system was discussed in 2012 and had approximately $14.5 million in bonds issued in 2012 and 2013, with construction beginning in 2014.
The new water treatment facility was constructed next to the original water plant which was built in 1983. In the original bond plan were four major phases which included construction of the new water treatment plant, renovation of the older water treatment plant, adding an 18-inch line to town and repairing existing lines and improvements in storage capacity, according to then City Manager David Casteel.
Anderson presented an update Tuesday at the budget meeting regarding the water treatment plant bond. He said the city ended up not renovating the older water treatment plant and put in another clarifier. He said due to increased costs in the first two phases, not as much bond funding was left over as anticipated.
“The new water line at that time there was $300,000 left over in the bond anticipated and then $110,000 left for new storage tanks of which there probably is a little bit of money left over from the bond, but we did go over phase 1A and 1B to a degree so that’s how the bond was spent. And again, when I got here I realized we didn’t even have the right rate set to even pay that bond back,” Anderson said.
Later in November 2015, the city came to the realization that 50% of the installed 10-year-old water meters were not displaying accurately which impacted the ability for the city to pay back the water treatment plant bond. While the city was looking for new meters they billed based on averages for eight months and took a hit on a proposed reserve fund which was to be established for water improvement projects in the amount of $400,000-600,000.
A decision was made by the Graham City Council in January 2016 to contract with the company Ferguson Mueller to replace the meters with financing from government capital and the new meters went online in July 2016. The project cost the city $1.8 million and they currently have two more payments left on that purchase. The city required one year of accurate usage and billing data to evaluate their rates to repay the bond and to start building a $400,000-600,000 reserve annually for future water improvement plans.
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part story dedicated to the council meeting regarding water in the city of Graham.
For the rest of the story, see the July 24 edition of The Graham Leader.