BPU: Commission looks into new Brainerd water tower
The Brainerd Public Utilities Commission Tuesday morning took action on a variety of items. The commission unanimously approved hiring Short Elliott Hendrickson to develop conceptual plans for a water tower in south Brainerd. Putting a water towe...
The Brainerd Public Utilities Commission Tuesday morning took action on a variety of items.
The commission unanimously approved hiring Short Elliott Hendrickson to develop conceptual plans for a water tower in south Brainerd.
Putting a water tower in south Brainerd has been on the utility's radar for 20-30 years, superintendent Scott Magnuson said. In order to secure funding from the state Legislature, the utility first needs concept plans for the water tower, he said, and it will cost $25,000-$30,000 for SEH to develop those plans.
"You need to have, not a full set of plans, but you need to have a good idea of what you want to do," Magnuson said.
The utility has identified an ideal spot to build the water tower, Magnuson said, and is in preliminary negotiations with the landowner to purchase the land. There's a 16-inch water main across the street, he said, so it's a good spot for water pressure and flows.
A water tower in south Brainerd will improve water pressure and flow in the area, Magnuson said, and it'll help with fire suppression systems at the Brainerd Industrial Park. The system is currently pressurized by service pumps, he said, which need to run almost constantly to keep consistent water pressure.
The water tower would have a 500,000 gallon capacity, Magnuson said. It would cost roughly $3 per gallon to construct, for a total of about $1.5 million. Costs to install underground infrastructure should be low, he said, as they're already there. But, there would be a cost associated with acquiring the land for the water tower.
The utility could look into bonding for the project costs, Magnuson said, and possibly tying it into the upcoming South Sixth Street water and sewer utility project in 2018.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved utility rates effective Feb. 1. The new rates are based on a rate study completed by Utility Financial Solutions and previously approved by the commission.
The average residential BPU customer will see an increase of $8.26 per month in their utility bill, after the rate adjustments for electric, water, sewer and stormwater service. The average commercial BPU customer will see an increase of $322.16 per month on their utility bill.
The new electric rates will result in an additional $720,000 in revenue for BPU, secretary/finance director Todd Wicklund said. It creates $112,000 in additional water department revenue and $148,000 in additional wastewater revenue.
During Wicklund's report, he noted the utility would be making about $4.4 million in debt service payments in 2017 related to nine different bond issuances. The utility will pay a total of about $1.8 million this year for bonds issued for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant and about $1 million for bonds issued in 2007 for an electrical substation and feeders.
In Wicklund's report, he noted the utility's hydro dam generated a little over 21 million kilowatt-hours of energy in 2016. This represents about 11 percent of the city's total energy needs.
In addition, the commission unanimously approved a policy for reconnecting electric and water service after regular business hours. The customer must pay their outstanding bill in full before the utility will reconnect the services for the customer. If the payment is made after 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the reconnection will be completed the following business day.
During Magnuson's report, he told the commission about a recent decorative addition near the front door of the BPU Service Center. An old turbine from the utility's hydro dam now sits on a stand near the door. It was installed in 1916 and removed last summer, Magnuson said, 100 years after it was installed.
The utility wants to install a plaque on the stand to let people know more about the turbine and its history, Magnuson said. He received a quote for a plaque that was higher than they like, he said, so he's looking for other options. Brainerd City Administrator Jim Thoreen suggested contacting the Minnesota Historical Society to see what company they use for plaques.