Before it adjourned April 14, the 28th Alaska Legislature in its capital budget granted the City of Kenai $2.5 million to build a backup water storage reservoir, but pulled $1.2 million from the governor’s proposed budget intended for wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
The city’s current 3 million gallon water storage reservoir needs repair, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said. The city was anticipating the $1.2 million to upgrade out-of-date equipment in its wastewater treatment plant, but nothing requires immediate attention, he said.
The city’s current water storage reservoir is about 30 years old, he said. Its internal coating only lasts for about 20 years, he said.
“You’ve seen old paint peel off the walls? That’s what it looks like in the tank,” Koch said.
The water storage reservoir supplies the city with all its water — drinking, bathing, cleaning, he said.
Currently no underlying metals are dissolving into the water, he said. But that will change as the coating peels more, he said.
The $2.5 million will fund the construction of an additional 1 million gallon backup reservoir and the recoating of the existing reservoir.
Because the city will need to drain its 3 million gallon reservoir to recoat its interior, the 1 million gallon backup tank will store its water, he said.
It will take the city about 4 to 6 months to recoat the big reservoir, he said.
Once the big reservoir is recoated, with the addition of the smaller reservoir, the city will have at least a three-day, on-demand supply of water, he said. That is optimal, he said.
“That would give us time to fly materials here from the Lower 48,” he said about a possible complication with the reservoir.
Currently the city is below its preferable three-day window, he said.
Koch said the city’s wastewater treatment plant is in the middle of a five-phase project to update the facility’s equipment. So far, a few objectives have been accomplished, he said, but the $1.2 million grant would have completed about a third of the city’s goals for the project.
“At this junction we’ll try to refine our options, move ahead with some preliminary design work and resubmit this again,” he said.
The city had qualified for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Municipal Matching Grant Program, he said. The city scored high on the program, and, had the state grant moved forward, ADEC would have paid 70 percent of the project cost and the city 30 percent, he said.
But, currently, “there’s nothing that rises to the level of emergency,” he said.
He said the facility has old sludge processors that need replacement, but that can wait up to five years.
“We got a couple of those over there,” he said. “It’s just old stuff.”
Dan Schwartz can be reached at email@example.com.