Council gives OK to city water projects

ESCONDIDO — The City Council approved a pair of projects concerning the city’s recycled water distribution and tanks at their recent meeting.

Chris McKinney, director of utilities, and Angela Morrow, deputy director of utilities, were authorized by the council for three State Revolving Fund Loans for Capital Improvement Projects for the recycled water distribution system expansion.

The project includes construction a reverse osmosis facility — similar to the Carlsbad desalination plant — adding an easterly agriculture distribution system and a brine line from Broadway near Grape Day Park to the Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility (HARRF).

Cost, meanwhile, has increased for the project, increasing to $38.3 million from $26.3 million. However, McKinney said the city is eligible for grants with the best case being up to 35 percent of the construction cost.

Applying for the loans, he added, automatically allows the application to be considered for grant funding.

“Until we know how much grant money they are going to give us, we won’t know exactly how much loan money we will take on,” McKinney said. “We have the debt coverage and the revenue to cover the debt for the full amount if we decided to take it.”

He added one reason for the expansion is to deliver recycled water to farmers, which in turn would get the agricultural industry off potable water. Another benefit, McKinney explained, is the city would import less potable water.

“We will be more secure when it comes to our water supply,” he said. “A big driver for these projects is to take water from our wastewater treatment plant and distribute it back into town rather than put it down our land-out fall (a pipeline along Escondido Creek to the ocean).”

He said the city researched upgrading the pipe, but a $500 million price tag and the environmental approvals weren’t realistic. Instead, the city focused on turning recycled water into drinking water.

As for the new distribution tanks, the second phase was approved for the Vista Verde Reservoir.

Morrow, deputy director of utilities, reported to the City Council two, one million gallon concrete tanks. The council approved an agreement with Pacific Hydrotech Corporation for $9,396,344.

In addition, the council also approved $671,540 for a consulting contract with Butier and a budget adjustment of $2,866,700.

The new tanks will replace the existing 750,000-gallon tank and a 132,000 temporary facility.

The new tanks, meanwhile, will be partially buried with 10 feet exposed to mitigate bad views from a nearby neighborhood.

“If you have a single tank that’s serving a neighborhood, you can’t shut that tank down to do maintenance,” McKinney said. “That’s why we are replacing a single tank with two tanks.”

He added the project is expected to take between 18 months and two years.

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