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Several construction improvements for Edmond’s water system are underway. These different projects are necessary to meet Edmond’s current and future water needs, as well as provide increased system reliability.
Edmond’s Ward 2 City Council Member, Josh Moore, explains, “We provide a lot of water for the citizens of Edmond. And that’s part of our responsibility. We take that seriously and we try to stay ahead of the curve in order to do that and be able to create enough for the needs of the citizens of Edmond and as we grow.”
The process to deliver water to Edmond customers can be divided into three steps: source, treatment, and distribution.
The first step includes three sources of water. The largest of these sources is Arcadia Lake. The Garber-Wellington aquifer is another source of water collected by 52 water wells throughout Edmond. The third source is purchasing water from Oklahoma City during periods of high usage in the summer.
Water collected from the wells is ready to drink and goes directly to the distribution stage. Water from Arcadia Lake, however, must go through the additional step of treatment. This occurs at the Water Treatment Plant, where water pumped from the lake undergoes several sophisticated processes to treat the water and make it drinkable. The plant was built in 1987, alongside the construction of Arcadia Lake. It can treat up to 12 million gallons of water each day.
The final step is distribution, which includes the water towers, water lines, storage tanks and pumping mechanisms necessary to deliver water to Edmond homes and businesses.
Making major improvements to only one of these steps is not practical. An upgrade to one step of the system also requires upgrades to the other steps to increase system capacity.
With its current infrastructure of wells and the treatment plant, Water Resources can produce 22 million gallons of water each day. This amount is not enough to sustain the increasing water needs of Edmond’s growing community. For more than a decade, City Council and City staff have studied and discussed strategies to increase water production. A master plan for water and wastewater was developed to identify several significant upgrades to the water system.
Moore said, “This will be the most expensive Public Works projects that’s ever happened in the City of Edmond and in the history of Edmond. When you have a project that big, we don’t make that decision lightly or quickly. When a project is that big, that important, and that costly, it takes years of studies for consultants and experts that we rely on to give us information to make good decisions. And then we implement that information and those decisions into the future and in new projects.”
Kris Neifing, the Director of Water Resources, said, “Our City Council has been very forward-thinking for years and years while we’ve talked about this master plan going back to 2009 with the Water Supply Plan, the Yield Study in 2012, and then our Master Plan that was ultimately presented to the Council. We’ve had very tough conversations about what this looks like for the future. But we’ve also planned for over a decade just to set us up to be able to afford these projects and to be able to implement them.”
In 2012, the City conducted an Arcadia Lake Yield Study, which determined the lake could supply 60 percent more water than was first calculated in the 1980s. Instead of providing for an average 11 million gallons per day, the new study determined Arcadia Lake could provide, on average, 17.6 million gallons each day. Making the adjustment to collect extra water from Arcadia Lake is not a simple matter, though.
The problem was that we could not take more water from the current intake structure out of the lake,” Neifing explained. “And so that resulted in us, in 2013, undertaking a Water and Wastewater Master Plan to see how we could make these improvements in the most economical manner possible.”
In 2022, the City Council approved the construction of a new intake structure that can pump 30 million gallons of water each day, and ultimately 65 million gallons per day in the future. A new pump station will be constructed as part of the project to push the lake water to the new treatment plant.
The current treatment plant doesn’t have the capability to expand. As a result, a new Water Treatment Plant is being constructed just to the south of the current facility. When the new Water Treatment Plant is complete, it will be capable of producing 30 million gallons of water per day, nearly triple what the plant currently produces. The project is also designed for possible expansion to meet the City’s needs for the next 50 to 100 years. The estimated completion date for the Water Treatment Plant is 2028.
As construction on a new plant occurs, the City is also drilling more water wells throughout Edmond. When completed, they will produce an additional 4 to 5 million gallons per day.
These large projects do come with a hefty price tag, not only because of their size and scope, but because of the specialized construction they require.
Neifing said, “We’ve got thousands of tons of steel going into a structure, thousands of yards of concrete and, you know, walls can be two to three to four feet thick just to hold themselves up and hold the water inside of them and keep the water inside of them. We’ve got a specific set of qualifications and any of our bid documents that we’re looking for people with experience.”
Moore said, “We’re convinced that this is the best decision at this time, and for the greatest reasons, that we need it. The faster we make this decision and invest in this new infrastructure, the faster we can start paying this off and be ahead of the curve, as far as creating new infrastructure for our growth.”
Visit EdmondWater.com to learn more about the different construction projects.