A computer-aided design CAD program on city Engineer Dan Rahn’s computer shows lines that parallel city streets and maps out Pacific’s underground water mains, valves, hydrants and pumps.
Some city workers know from experience where all the lines and equipment are located after repairing water main breaks or replacing lines, but having a map, printed from the CAD program, offers immediate detail, Rahn said.
“You can see where valves are located that you need to shut off to repair a break,” he said.
The Pacific Water System, which dates back to the 1920s, relies on three wells and pumps, a reservoir, an aboveground tank, three water softeners and lines that reach every occupied structure in the city.
“You can go into that CAD program and punch in an address and see the water pressure in gallons per minute,” said Ed Gass, former public works director, who started the below ground mapping project a decade ago.
Gass said some of the underground lines are extremely old, and sizes vary and are made from a variety of materials. There are lines as small as 2 inches, if they serve only a few homes, and as large as 30 inches near the maintenance shed where the city stages chlorine being injected into the system.
The original lines were cast iron, which were replaced by ductile iron, a much denser material, for as long as the city could afford it. In recent years all new water lines are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe.
Operation and maintenance of the system is the responsibility of five men, overseen by Robert Brueggemann, water department supervisor.
The CAD program helps the water department plan for repairs, replacement, growth and long-term maintenance of the city’s water supply, according to Rahn.
“At the site, we work with printed maps that have all the information,” he said.
Water workers cannot only locate valves that need to be shut off to allow repairs of water line breaks, but can see the size of lines and which properties are served by the line.
Maps show developers the location and size of water and sewer lines that would be needed for their projects.
Also identified are things like an end pipe that could be looped to other water lines for better flow and pressure.
CAD maps are part of a comprehensive water plan completed by Cochran Engineering in November 2011.
“It’s basically a five- to 10-year plan,” Rahn said. “We’ve identified $2.8 million in capital improvement projects that will be completed during that time.”
Among replacement items are the need for new water softeners at Well 1 near Liberty Field and Well 2 at Columbus and Union at a cost of approximately $225,000 each.
The city water and sewer systems are each funded through user fees that are dedicated to the department.
“We also look for state and federal grants to help with capital expenditures,” Rahn said.
The idea of mapping the underground infrastructure was started under the direction of Gass, who served as public works director for more than 20 years.
“Ed (Gass) and URS Engineering did some of the field work on the sewer system that went into the program,” Rahn said.
The water department started the year with a fund balance, but plans to spend more than they it take in in user fees.
Anticipated revenue for this year is $733,030 and anticipated expenses are $832,864.
The sewer department will take in slightly more than it spends. Anticipated sewer department revenue is $1,112,835 and expenses are $1,074,551.