Council looks for new water source

Posted: Wednesday, February 07, 2007

With no shortage of data, council members in Kenai likely will be looking into a new source of city drinking water or possibly treating water to meet stricter federal arsenic standards.

Engineering consultants with Hattenburg Dilley and Linnell have prepared a nearly 100-page draft report on the current condition of the city’s water sources including some recommendations the city might wish to consider in order to provide residents with a better drink of water.

Consultants Scott Hattenburg and Lori Dilley are scheduled to make a presentation on their study at tonight’s council meeting.

City water comes mainly from one of three city wells in the Beaver Creek aquifer, according to City Manager Rick Koch.

Water in that well meets the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard of 10 parts arsenic per billion, Koch said. The other wells are slightly higher, he said.

The problem with the water coming from the aquifer is a problem of aesthetics, Koch said.

Water from the Beaver Creek aquifer is colored by tannins or organics, according to the consultants’ report, giving the water a slight brown color.

“There’s nothing unsafe about it,” he said. “It’s just that people want clear water without any color.”

The consultants’ recommendations include treating the water to remove arsenic or seeking another water source, perhaps upriver in the Eagle Rock vicinity, which likely would have lower levels of arsenic.

Based on older information, Koch said operating costs for a treatment facility had been estimated at between $250,000 and $400,000 per year, but the Hattenburg consultants are now obtaining information indicating the costs could be between $20,000 and $150,000.

Koch said council members have had the report for about one week and may ask for a work session to discuss its findings.

The council also is expected to hear from a Wasilla economic development planner on a proposal seeking to change the state liquor law as it applies to upscale restaurant licensing.

Current law allows for one high-end restaurant liquor license per 1,500 residents in a community. Because communities such as Wasilla, Kenai and North Pole serve population areas outside their city limits that are many times their own population, the three to five licenses allowed are inadequate, according to a Wasilla letter being sent to legislators.

Wasilla is seeking Kenai’s support of the proposal.

A final public hearing will be conducted tonight on the proposed sale of 38 acres of city-owned land to Wal-Mart for a planned store to be built behind Kenai Chrysler Center.

The selling price listed in the proposed agreement is $3,580,000. If the sale is completed, Wal-Mart has said it would build the store within four years of closing the real estate sale.

The council is slated to consider appropriating $2,000 to replace a dipnet pay shack at south beach that was demolished by a car last summer.

Koch said he mailed a demand for the money to the Polish visitors who allegedly crashed their rented car into the unoccupied shack, never expecting to see the money.

A check in the amount of $2,000 was received by the city for restitution. Koch said the amount would cover the cost of replacing the shack.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek

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