By Troy Lesan
I have an idea. Pour yourself a nice glass of water and sit down. I have an article I want you to read . . . about our drinking water.
Maybe not such an exciting subject – it’s something that we mostly take for granted – but it’s very important. We are very blessed in many ways at Lake Viking, and the quality of our drinking water is one of our major blessings. There are many places in the world where entire populations live entire lifetimes without ever knowing the simple luxury of clean, quality drinking water.
Lake Viking has great drinking water, and we have the numbers to prove it. As a public supply district, our water quality is tested extensively with results published and monitored by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Water District Manager Roger Barker has even seen to it that the district has its own testing apparatus which he and Gary King continuously use to monitor our supply. If further confirmation were needed, in 2018 the DNR mandated a specially funded effort to test for the presence of e-coli in the raw water supply. It was a year-long study and when it was concluded, the superior quality of Lake Viking water was once again confirmed, even in the raw water with a next to zero presence of e-coli.
Our water plant, situated at the north end of the lake close to the dam, is over 50 years old. Thanks in great part to Manager Roger Barker, the water plant has run like a well-oiled machine. Roger has decades of experience and knows the industry inside and out which has resulted in his presence on the State Rural Water Board. Our district has also had a history of an excellent staff to support Roger.
As referenced earlier, however, the plant is getting old. Both the equipment and building have experienced significant deterioration in 50+ years of operation. The plant still pumps water like clockwork, but there is another vulnerability that looms large. It is pumping capacity on PEAK USAGE days. With the population disbursement being comprised of less full-time residents and more part-time residents, overall usage has remained constant but peak usage events have increased. This has become a challenge to the aging system.
With this in mind, Public Water Supply District #3 applied for a grant made available by the DNR, providing 80% funding for an engineering study of our system. This was an extraordinary opportunity. The district applied for the grant and received it. Then the real work began. The engineer selected was Bartlett and West, an experienced and reliable regional firm.
A year later, after crunching numbers, working and re-working the expenses which included several variance requests, the numbers have materialized. Public Water Supply District #3 is closing in on a major water plant upgrade with an estimated cost of $2.1 million with financing to be spread out over 20 years. At present, rates for financing this project are favorable. The anticipated interest rate on financing is 2.5%. Just yesterday it was announced that the Fed is not anticipating a raise in rates for the immediate future.
This plan lingered, for a time, with concerns over what impact COVID-19 would have on the economy. The outcome was a surprise to everyone at Lake Viking. Business at the lake went bonkers. Property sales sky rocketed; demand went through the roof. The Association Office had an unprecedented increase in deed transfers. Lake Manager Shad Mort has been on record as stating that this was the busiest year he had ever seen at Lake Viking. Property values spiked, and Lake Viking Marine literally sold out of boats. Our relatively remote location with the wide open spaces made Lake Viking ideal for the social distancing mentality that suddenly prevailed. We began to see a boom in activity in April and it continued throughout the year. Association members were spending more time at the lake than ever before. It also became apparent that peak water usage days were increasing.
The previous paragraphs are a lot to digest, so I will begin to elaborate on the particulars. Proposed funding of this water facility upgrade will be a 20-year project based on a projected across the board increase of our base water rate by $10 a month. It is presently anticipated that tap fees will remain the same. A chart that accompanies this article will clearly demonstrate that the increase still positions our district’s water rates equal to or below those of neighboring water districts. At this point, without mentioning names, I can tell readers that certain neighboring water districts have had serious problems with disastrous water loss numbers and outright system failures due to terribly outdated infrastructure.
The Lake Viking water supply has not had any of these problems, because we have kept ahead of the curve by continuously implementing incremental improvements. We intend to keep this record intact.
Water intake for our plant is at the dam with water pumped to the plant and processed. Storage is at two water towers: the traditional elevated tower, with a 75,000 gallon capacity that looms on the horizon on the southeast portion of Association property; a 100,000 gallon stand-pipe, on the northwest end, close to the Lake Viking Sales Office, and a 285,000 gallon clear-well directly behind the water plant building. The single-stage processing of the raw water consists of:
- Coagulation when chemicals are added.
- Sedimentation where settling occurs
- A three layer filtration process.
- A final process of granular activated carbon filtering.
This is done by equipment in the water plant.
Our single-stage processing is unusual. In today’s industry design specifications, two-stage processing is usually mandated by the DNR. The reason our district is able to retain the single-stage process is a result of our good numbers which are the result of our relatively clean raw water source mentioned earlier.
Many water districts, especially the big districts that are now selling their water to smaller districts, get their water from rivers which are heavily laden with runoff and affluents. Our district applied to the DNR for a variance that would exempt us from the two-stage process thereby saving expense. The variance was granted.
Public Water Supply District #3 has a lot of positives of which many other rural water districts would be in envy, but our aging system is becoming more of a liability during peak usage events. Water District Manager Roger Barker is aware of this and knows how to compensate. For many years, he has gone through an extensive preparation drill during the days before the Fourth of July.
First of all, he revs the pumps into high gear several days out, makes sure that both water towers and clear well stay full several days out, but then around mid-day, on those big peak usage days, we still begin to lose ground with our water pressure. The July 4 weekend is, without a doubt, the peak usage benchmark for Lake Viking.
Our yearly total is around 20,000,000 gallons of water processed. An average water consumption day is 58,000 gallons. In a three-day stretch during the 2020 July 4 weekend, daily totals of water processed were 149,300 gallons, 161,950, and 126,370. Some years, peak daily totals, always in July, were as high as 200,000 gallons used. The plan for the new system will double our pumping capacity from 120 gallons a minute to 240 gallons per minute, thereby alleviating the strain on peak usage days.
The Bartlett and West Engineering Study touched on potential growth at Lake Viking. Now, as the year closes, we are seeing this growth – big time – and that’s what this plan for a major upgrade is all about. We want to stay ahead of the curve.
In summary, it is important to stress we are looking at a projected rate increase which still puts us equal to or below water rates for neighboring districts. (See chart) Considering real estate values and other costs of lake living, this is noteworthy. This upgrade is all about taking on the future while continuing to provide a superior quality of drinking water. I could go on about this subject, but at the beginning of this article, I recommended a drink of water, and I’m sure that readers are finished with that drink by now.
The complete Engineering Report from Bartlett and West is in digital form. Public Water Supply District #3 is governed by the sunshine laws of the State of Missouri regarding transparency. A copy of the engineering report is available for customers to look at in the office or can be available to water district customers upon written request.
More historical information on Public Supply Water District #3 can be found in the Forty-Year History of Lake Viking which is online at lakevikingmo.com.
PWSD # 3 Water Connections at Lake Viking
2015 — 626 hookups
2016 — 637 hookups
2017 — 651 hookups
2018 — 654 hookups
2019 — 662 hookups
2020 — 668 hookups