The city of Bemidji will, at some point in near future, need to consider whether to invest about $7.5 million into new wells and an associated water treatment plant.
The Bemidji City Council heard an update from staff Monday on the state of the city's Capital Improvement Plan for the city's utilities and the utility funds. No action was required.
Bemidji Public Works Director/City Engineer Craig Gray told the council that the city does not immediately need a new well, but that it will become a concern in future years.
The city's current wells are all located in about the same location near the Bemidji Regional Airport.
"That's not very common," Gray said.
While the city has not had a problem with contamination, he noted that the proximity of the wells to one another could become an issue if contamination were to occur in that area.
Gray also said the city uses a sequestering agent in its water that deactivates the iron in the water.
"That becomes less effective the longer the water sits in the pipes," Gray said.
So, as the city expands it water system, the time the water spends in the pipelines will get longer.
Some of the water could then take on a reddish tint, Gray said.
"There are no health issues," he said, but it could result in have a tinted ring around a bathtub or tinted laundered clothes.
For now, that is not a concern, he explained, but if the city were to extend its services - for instance through annexation - that would be a more likely possibility.
The suggestion for future consideration of a city well - or combination of new wells - is included in the CIP for the city's utility.
Gray worked on the CIP along with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services as the contracted firm studied and examined the city's water system and made recommendations.
The CIP now details needed improvements in two parts: one, improvements needed for water supply and treatment; and, two, improvements needed to the city's transmission lines.
Gray said that before the firm had been hired, it was not precisely known just how needed suggested projects were.
"It's going to be really nice for us to have an accurate CIP," he said.