Major water projects loom on horizon

WESTFIELD – The Water Commission was advised that several major water distribution system upgrades are poised for construction next year, work that could pose a significant challenge to the department’s ability to supply water to city residents and businesses.
The main project is the replacement of the pipeline between the city’s Granville Reservoir and the treatment plant in Southwick.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik has submitted a $2,893,000 bond request to fund the replacement of the waterline, connecting the city’s water supply to the largest surface water source in the city, to the City Council. The Granville Raw Water Pipeline bond is now in the Finance and the Legislative & Ordinance committees.
The present pipeline limits the flow of water and is leaking, while the proposed pipeline is projected to increase flow from the reservoir to the treatment plant, located in Southwick, by 1 to 1.5 million gallons a day, a cost avoidance measure, by substantially reducing the demand for well water.
The Granville pipeline replacement project will employ the use of trenchless technology, employing pipe bursting technology which will be used in the upper half of Granville Gorge, while traditional trenching methods, which are more cost-effective, approach, will be used for the more accessible lower half of the project. The purpose of the project is to replace a 14-inch pipe, originally installed in 1890, with a 16-inch high-density plastic pipe.
The project would be financed through a federal low-interest loan, part of which may be forgiven over time, administered through a state revolving fund program. The state has approved $2,357,000 for the project.
Water Engineer Charles Darling said the city will rely entirely on its system of wells to provide drinking water and the switch from surface water to the wells could reduce water pressure in some areas of the city. Darling also suggested that the board be prepared to impose a city-wide water ban if conditions next summer are similar to the low-rain fall being experienced this summer.
“We have an October deadline to submit the plans and permits to the state and construction has to begin before April (2013) to qualify for principal forgiveness,” he said.
Darling also said that the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been negotiating the level of federal funding for work needed to repair the Granville Reservoir spillway which was damaged during the Aug. 28 tropical storm which deluged the region. That storm dropped between four to six inches of rain in Westfield. The worst of the storm in Western Massachusetts was in the surroinding hill towns were between eight and 12 inches of rain fell, turning small streams into raging rivers.
Darling said the reservoir will be drained for the pipeline replacement work which will provide the department with an opportunity to repair the damaged spillway and to make other improvements to the reservoir dam system while the resource if off line.
A third major project will involve the East Mountain water storage tank. Darling said that the department recently notified residents of a high bacteria count in the city’s drinking water. The source of those bacteria was traced to the East Mountain water storage tank which is more than 50 years old. The city’s system of holding tanks is what provides water pressure. Water is pumped up into the tanks and gravity flow creates that pressure.
Darling said the state Department of Environmental Protection has qualified work to repair the existing tank or to replace that tank with a new structure for the same low-interest funding program from the state that will be used for the Granville pipeline work.

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