NORTH LIBERTY — In building a new water treatment plant, North Liberty city officials are planning ahead to accommodate expected population growth in the future.
The plant, under construction along Front Street on the city’s public works campus, could serve roughly 24,000 residents with 3 million gallons of water per day. The existing facility, built in the mid-1970s on South Chestnut Street, can put out around 1.25 million gallons of water per day with a peak flow of 2 million gallons, said Nick Bergus, the city’s communications director.
“The idea is that should take us to the population that we project North Liberty to have in 2028,” Bergus said, adding many of the existing plant’s backup systems are being used more and more as everyday systems. “Really, we just need everything we’ve got right now. So having some additional capacity is really critical.”
City council member Jim Sayre said when it comes to deciding on major facility improvements, like the new water treatment plant, he often relies on the recommendations of experts and wants to make sure the city isn’t spending money it doesn’t have.
In voting for the nearly $13.5 million project, Sayre said he believed the city was financially stable enough to build a new plant. Additionally, he said he advocates for the city projects, like future construction of a roughly $5 million police station, to be able to serve a growing population.
According to the U.S. Census, North Liberty had 13,374 residents in 2010. In January 2016, the city announced a special census found the population had grown to 18,228 residents.
Portzen Construction won the contract for the new water treatment plant and the project is scheduled for completion in August 2018.
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Once it comes online, Bergus said residents can expect improved water quality because the plant will use a method called nanofiltration, which uses membranes to clean the water.
Bergus said the improvement to the city’s water system is expected to happen in four parts, the first being the construction of the plant itself. Then, new watermains to get water to the facility will be installed, as well as a ground storage tank on the plant’s property.
Finally, two new wells already have been completed in Quail Ridge Park.
The plant also is being built in a way that will allow additions to be made to expand capacity — one to 4.2 million gallons of water a day and another to raise that number to 6 million gallons. Bergus said each expansion is planned to be built a decade apart.
“Capacity is going to be something that we’re going to continue to need to be building for,” Bergus said, adding that city officials need to be ready to expand the structure when needed.
“It doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of building to add that capacity.”
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