Monmouth looks to increase its water production

MONMOUTH -- City leaders hope to double the water-production capacity of Monmouth's municipal system by the summer of winter of 2007.

The city would need to reach that level in order to meet the demand expected from several new subdivisions being built in the city, as well as future residential and commercial growth, said Public Works Director Craig Johns.

Currently, the city produces about 1.1 million gallons of water per day (gpd), roughly the same amount that the town's 8,700 residents consume, Johns said.

"The city can provide ample water to its citizens now and in the future," Johns said in a water supply status report, "provided there is orderly growth and that the city develops a new water source within the next 18 months."

Some of the findings and events of the past summer bear that need out, John said.

The city was "borderline of not being able to meet demand for three or four days this summer," Johns said. "That's not a position we want to be in ... we want to be able to provide as much water as people want."

During that period, officials made a request to Western Oregon University to reduce its irrigation activities by 50 percent. Western often lowers its water usage for about a week each year as a conservation measure.

"For those three days, we had to ask one of our largest users to cut back," City Councilor Marc Miller said. "I think that's a fair warning that we need to address these issues."

According to Public Works, there are five new subdivisions being constructed that could generate as many as 278 new residences. Using three people per household as an average, this would require the municipal water system to produce an additional 105,000 gpd.

The city has more than 100 acres that have been or could be annexed. The city would need 225,000 gpd to meet demand if it were developed as residential.

"The city needs to be able to produce at least 330,000 gpd to accommodate peak residential demand, commercial or industrial use," Johns said.

The city invested several hundred thousand dollars to test potential sources in the Buena Vista area and near its Marion County well east of Independence. Capacity or nitrate contamination problems ruled them out, Johns said.

Those setbacks, coupled with staff turnover, have put Monmouth "about 18 months behind where we wish to be in pursuing another water source," Johns said.

The city is in the process of building a $1 million water-treatment facility that could help resolve the short-term danger of exceeding water production capacity.

The facility would mean the city could tap wells once considered off-limits because of the level of nitrates in the water, thus increasing the town's production capabilities by 500,000 gpd, Johns said.


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