The neighborhood of North Port St. Joe will begin to see water line replacement in the near future.
The city of Port St. Joe has been awarded a $650,000 Community Development Block Grant which will fund water line replacement along Avenues B-D between Battle Street and U.S. Highway 98.
In effect, the grant allows the city to complete phase one of the replacement of some 20 miles of aging water distribution pipe which is believed the primary culprit in the city’s ongoing issues with discolored water.
The CDBG grant was sought last year as a method to pay for one portion of the first phase – and save the city costs of tapping into loans/grants from the State Revolving Fund – of water line replacement.
Due to the age of pipes and financial demographics, the area of North Port St. Joe was seen as a prime candidate for a CDBG to underwrite the work.
“This is big,” said Mayor Mel Magidson.
The award comes as the contractor is winding up work on the opening phase, which was the replacement of roughly eight miles of pipe. There are some dry connections still to be made, said engineer Clay Smallwood with Preble Rish Engineers, but the contractor is wrapping up the work in the coming weeks.
The city will embark on the second phase later this spring.
The first phase came in with the city saving roughly $95,000 and that will be used for a pilot project of sorts for the Public Works Department.
Part of the next phase of line replacement is replacing a section of line along Marvin Avenue and John Grantland, director of Public Works, said he and his crew could accomplish the replacement of that section to test how much of subsequent work might be done in-house to save money.
“We’d like the opportunity to show we can do the work and save some money,” Grantland said. “Our skill set has changed that we know and are confident we can do this and save money.”
Water pilot study
After a meeting with CDM Smith, the company which designed the city’s water plant, city staff and a professor at Virginia Tech, which will monitor and test results, a water study is underway.
The goal of the eight month study is to isolate the cause of the city’s red water and to determine a course of action in addressing the problem.
The study will involve taking water samples from throughout the distribution area on a continuing basis, testing from plant to home or business, and sending the samples to Virginia Tech for analysis.
The hope is that by the end of the study the city will have a chemical addition protocol that will address the discoloration of water in the most cost-effective way.
This year’s initial uni-directional flushing of the water distribution system has moved throughout much of the city proper out to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf, Grantland said.
He said crews should be finished with North Port St. Joe and Highland View by this week and move up to White City.
“It’s been a better process than last year,” Grantland said. “We saw a big difference.”
He cautioned that the flushing will cause upset in the lines and anybody impacted by sudden discoloration should call City Hall or Public Works to report the problem so that crews can come out and thoroughly flush the area.