By Sarah Richardson
A huge obstacle has been overcome in regards to upgrades of the Lewisburg municipal water plant. This project has been in discussion for roughly 15 years, and as of this week, 80 percent of easements have been granted, the number required by the USDA to implement their $38 million dollar loan. With 80 percent of property owners granting access for the massive project, it can finally begin move forward.
While expensive, city officials say the updates are “inventible,” and are necessary to provide water to Lewisburg and the surrounding areas as the region continues to expand.
“We had to have these easements granted before we could go to bid,” explained City Manager Misty Hill. The easements allow for water lines to be upgraded or replaced around town. “Some are going to increase in size, and some are going to be completely replaced. There are a lot of different areas that need work, and we are not redoing every single city line, but there are some that we simply have to change the size of or switch out.”
Bids for the project will go out in October, and should take roughly three months to gather.
“Hopefully we can start construction on the water plant next spring,” said Hill. “The plant is staying at the area in Caldwell, but some things are getting moved around and expanded.”
Another part of the project is the relocation of the water intake pipe. It is currently installed below the landfill, which causes concern for some residents. The new location will be roughly a mile north of the landfill to alleviate any potential contamination.
As of now, the water plant has to pump 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with demand. As people move to the area, we have simply “run out of hours in the day” for water pumping. Most water plants pump for roughly eight to 10 hours a day, and save the water that’s been gathered. This also comes in handy when there are extenuating circumstances such as muddy water, as Lewisburg saw several months ago. With the plant operating 24/7, it’s hard to shut down when needed, whether it be for maintenance or to deal with issues.
“It’s very important that we have a plant that can handle this volume,” said Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White. “This has been a long time coming. I remember being on Lewisburg City Council 15 years ago when we first started to discuss this.”
It is too soon to estimate a project completion date, but for one of this size and caliber, it’s estimated to take several years.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience in the community,” Hill said.