Municipalization helps Cape Girardeau reach goals
The Cape Girardeau, Mo., water system, which serves a population of around 36,000, is nearing the fourth anniversary of municipal ownership. The city purchased the system in 1992 from a private energy utility and contracted with Alliance Water Resources, Columbia, Mo., to operate and manage the newly acquired asset.
The subsequent public/private partnership has resulted in attainment of a number of goals initially identified in the city’s purchase of the system.
Encouragement of community growth, which had stagnated in the `80s, was one of the city’s goals. This was achieved by city participation in water facilities, such as distribution piping and booster pumping facilities, and has resulted in the rapid commercial, retail and residential growth evidenced by the 20 percent increase in water deliveries to the system in only four years.
Cost containment in a time of increasing quality standards was another goat. Annual rate increases since municipalization have averaged 2.25 percent, well below the reported 4 percent to 5 percent national average.
Reduction of energy costs by more than 33 percent and chemical expense savings have been key factors. The energy savings were achieved through load shift management that maximizes pumping during off-peak hours, retrofit of facilities with high-efficiency motors and VFDs and completion of an open architecture format SCADA system.
The water system has operated free of any regulatory infractions despite record flooding of the Mississippi River, the system’s primary source of water, in 1993 and 1995. Other accomplishments include:
* replacement of undersized mains and inadequate hydrants;
* implementation of a meter replacement program that is now in its third year;
* obtaining of grants for flood protection of intake facilities;
* completion of a design for seismic protection of storage facilities; and
* use of a computer model for the distribution system.
Still, several challenges loom. For example, a plant expansion will likely be needed, as will new alluvial wells to meet upcoming regulatory changes.
Other challenges include the need to provide even greater chemical cost savings and safeguards against contaminants and the construction of additional transmission and storage facilities.
The city has entered into a master service agreement with an engineering firm to identify, predesign considerations for the expansion, investigate potential yields of the proposed well field and determine the alternatives to and parameters of complying with future regulations.
Preliminary reports indicate firm yields of 400 gpm per well from the alluvial formations adjacent to the existing Cape Rock treatment plant, though higher yields are possible at each well.
Reports indicate that the expansion of the plant to 10 mgd capacity will require a maximum of 21 wells, depending on the actual developed yields of these wells. Expansion of the plant will also include the rehabilitation of filters and equipment already in place in the facility, which was originally constructed in Cape Girardeau in 1934.