SHERIDAN — Members of the Sheridan Area Water Supply joint powers board metaphorically sat a little taller at their meeting Wednesday as they discussed a solution to an ongoing problem that could potentially save money and make water service better.
After more than six months of discussion between the SAWS board and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality about the need to provide alternative sources of power at 18 booster stations around the county to prevent loss of water service during a power outage, the two entities reached agreement on an option that will allow continuous, instantaneous monitoring of every booster station and use of portable power generators to provide back-up power if needed.
“We’re excited about that,” County Public Works Director Rod Liesinger said. “This is a very good and positive move forward.”
The SAWS board approved a series of three agreements at its meeting that all dealt with the new booster station plan.
The first was an amendment to the original contract with engineering firm DOWL-HKM to bring closure to the design of the booster station equipment upgrades and cover additional costs incurred due to the DEQ’s requirement for alternative power that was not part of the original contract, Liesinger said.
The second agreement approved was also with DOWL-HKM. It will allow DOWL-HKM to do preliminary design and engineering on the overall plan to meet DEQ requirements for alternative power at the 18 booster stations.
The project will include electrical improvements at each booster station so they can interface with a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) monitoring system; research on where to place two portable power generators to provide efficient back-up power in case of an outage; preparation of an emergency response plan; and development of an outreach program to educate customers on how to prepare for a power outage should one occur.
The third agreement passed by the SAWS board was with OMP Engineering to do preliminary design of a SCADA radio system that will tie the 18 booster stations into one system that can be monitored remotely at a water treatment plant or in the SAWS office.
Liesinger said the SCADA system could possibly save SAWS approximately 50 percent of maintenance costs at its booster stations.
Currently, staff visit all 18 booster stations once per week to check how they’re functioning, which takes a considerable amount of time and effort due to the remote locations of many of the stations. With remote monitoring in place, visits to the stations could be cut to once or twice per month, Liesinger said.
At this point, the SAWS board is not sure how much the SCADA system will cost, but it does believe it will be cheaper than installing alternative power sources at every booster station. Preliminary work is slated to be finished by year’s end so project design can begin in January and construction can occur in next year’s construction season, Liesinger said.
The SAWS board went into executive session to discuss the purchase of property. No action was taken following the executive session.