Town’s water system to get $1.8M in work

This is going to be a big year for Nashville Utilities. But if everything goes according to plan, most customers probably won’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

Between the end of this month and the beginning of September, contractors will undertake five long-needed projects on the town’s water distribution system.

All residential water meters will be replaced throughout the entire Nashville Utilities system.

The booster station in Schooner Valley will be replaced so that water can be distributed to town from East Monroe Water Co. when needed, or from Nashville to homes in the Yellowwood and Somerset Lake areas.

An unneeded water tank and booster station at Al’s Paint and Body Shop will be demolished.

Several valves will be placed on water lines in strategic places in the system in order to reduce the effect of gravity on water pressure.

The most visible project will be along Freeman Ridge Road, where residents will be getting a new, 8-inch water main to replace a 4-inch line.

Projects are being funded by a $592,000 grant and a $1.2 million low-interest loan awarded in late 2016. Funding came from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Community Development Block Grant Program and from USDA Rural Development.

Work could start yet this month, Nashville Utilities Coordinator Sean Cassiday said. The town is meeting with the contractor and engineers on Jan. 17, and after that date, he expects to have a better idea of what’s happening when.

The town council chose low bidder Reed & Sons Construction of Bloomington to do the work.

Originally, the council thought it was going to have to find another source of funding to do install the pressure-reducing valves, which are a step in preventing line breaks and boil orders. But because bids were so competitive, and because it was able to get a better price by buying meters on its own, Cassiday and Town Manager Scott Rudd believe that the valve project also will fit into the grant and loan package.

“We are really lucky to have great contractor on board to be able to do the meter installation for a lot less money than expected, which will save us close to $20,000,” Cassiday said.

What to expect

The tank demolition at Al’s and the booster station replacement near Mike’s Dance Barn will have no effect on traffic or service, Cassiday and Rudd said.

The Freeman Ridge project will.

The section of water main to be replaced runs from Freeman Ridge’s intersection with Greasy Creek Road all the way to the 90-degree turn on Freeman Ridge.

Right now, there’s an 8-inch line leading from the Brown County Water Utility tank on Freeman Ridge, but it reduces to a 4-inch line at the turn, Cassiday said.

Upgrading it to an 8-inch line should give residents better water service and better fire protection, plus it’ll open up the line for better flow down State Road 135 toward town, he said.

The water line is in the narrow road, so Freeman Ridge will be excavated. But workers will take care to not block the entire road overnight so that residents can get in and out, Cassiday said.

“We’re going to make it so it will be passable for things like emergency services,” he said.

Residents will get a letter with more information once the timing is known, he said. Ideally, he’d like to do that project before spring so that mud can be avoided, he said.

Once work is done, Freeman Ridge will be repaved, and if workers get into any yards, those will be restored, he said.

Replacing water meters will be a matter of opening a metal lid, unbolting the old meter from the pit it sits in and screwing in a new one. If the pit itself needs to be replaced, that may require “minimal” excavation, Cassiday said. It should take no more than minutes to replace a meter and 30 minutes to an hour to replace a pit, he said.

The water will be off for a short period while the meter is being replaced, but “most people, if they’re at home, probably won’t even know we did it if they didn’t have to run a faucet,” he said.

Installing the new meters will mean a significant reduction in labor for the water department staff going forward, Cassiday said.

Whereas now, five people drive around the service area for three, four or five days to open every pit and read every meter, the new meters can be radio-read. Cassiday predicts that one person can do the job in one day just by driving by properties with the meter reading device.

The new meters also will be able to help detect possible leaks by showing what’s normal and abnormal usage. They can even show how much water was used at a certain time of the day, he said.

“If water usage never goes to zero, you know there’s a leak,” Rudd said.

Lower rates?

When the water grant and loan were announced more than a year ago, Rudd had said that he’d hoped these projects would enable the town to eventually lower water rates.

Last week, he didn’t have any more information on when or if that will happen.

“We continue to actively work to make the utilities as efficient as possible, and under the right conditions, it could be possible to reduce the burden on customers,” he said. “That’s a really tough thing to do.”

The water utility’s budget has been further challenged this year by legal expenses incurred through a federal lawsuit that was brought by the town’s water provider, Brown County Water Utility.

That suit, which was filed more than six months ago, has not been settled yet, but both parties are in talks, he said.

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.