City Approves Emergency Pump as Water Supply ‘Insurance’

 In Featured News, General News, News

City Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of a Raw Water Intake pump during Monday’s regular meeting in case water levels drop in the Missouri River this winter to levels that would otherwise interrupt the city’s water supply.

The pump, which was quoted to cost $101,900, with installation costs estimated up to an additional $50,000, would allow the Raw Water Intake (RWI) – which is where water is taken from the river for use by city residents, businesses, and industries – to function even if water levels recede below the current input location. Currently the RWI can function with river levels as low as about 5 feet.

A letter recently received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the city that the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota, from which much of the Missouri River water flows, would decrease water flows beginning in December that could push the river level below 4 feet near Atchison. That level would likely be lower than necessary for the current intake to work.

Without the water intake, all of Atchison and its customers would be without water.

“Hopefully we won’t need it and it will sit on the shelf as an insurance policy,” Interim City Manager Justin Pregont said. “But if the pump is needed then it should keep us from having an emergency situation on our hands due to lack of running water.”

City staff is working on a more permanent solution – such as a collector well – using potential federal grant funding, but best-case scenario that would not be up and running for another 4-5 years.

In other actions Monday, city commissioners approved the 2022 Employee Insurance Benefits package, which will be unchanged from 2021 with the same rates and same benefits for health, dental, vision, life, and short-term disability insurances.

Commissioners also approved an application for a KDOT airport grant for supplemental funding for a new runway at Amelia Earhart Airport. The city was recently awarded FAA funding for the project and the state grant would help supplement the local match portion necessary. Commissioner also heard updates on the city’s code enforcement and street maintenance efforts from 2021.

The next regular city commission meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1, in the commission room.