Preparations are being made for major upgrades that could finally address one of the most maligned aspects of Lake County life – water quality in Lakeview.
A master plan for a comprehensive overhaul of the community’s water system has been completed and submitted for application of funds in collaboration with the Town of Lakeview, Public Works Department, and Anderson Engineering & Surveying. Initial estimates place the total cost at roughly $9.7 million.
A common complaint from residents due to its often dirty taste and appearance, many steps have already been undertaken to increase water quality. Lines are routinely flushed, and new main line piping has been installed along numerous Lakeview streets. Last summer alone new pump line and services and distribution line was installed, with approximately two miles worth of plastic pipe in lieu of rusted steel pipes. System flushing and tank cleaning has also been increased.
Yet the continued presence of iron and manganese in the water, the result of geothermal influence in the ancient lake bed material of the Goose Lake Valley from which wells draw their water supply, retain a trace amount of lake bed remnants.
The levels of iron and manganese are within Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, but it does exceed the EPA’s secondary contaminant recommendations.
Additionally, raised levels of arsenic specific to the north well has resulted in the well being cutoff from the supply. The comprehensive water master plan submitted for funding requests includes several means to address water standards, beginning with the construction of a water treatment facility. The treatment plant would filter out much of the iron and manganese natural to the system from the supply wells before being fed into the distribution system. Additionally, an arsenic treatment facility would be constructed at the north well, allowing that well to rejoin the system.
“It has been one of our biggest weak points, we have had water quality questions in Lakeview forever,” said Public Works Dir. and interim co-Town Mgr. Jeff Marshall. “People are fed up with it. We went through a master plan that addresses every issue with our water quality. I think by the end of this year we will have the funding in place for it, and can start next spring.”
Project plans include the aforementioned treatment facility and arsenic treatment system, replacement of aging distribution piping, improvements at three wells, installation of an automated control system, and improved fencing around the main spring area. Planned piping replacement includes the area along Hwy 395 North, much of the downtown area, un-annexed areas west of the railroad tracks between O through V streets, and south of South 9th Street.
Construction costs are estimated to be $7.9 million, with an additional nearly $1.7 million in construction, engineering, permits and reviews, and administration of the system.
Improvements to water quality is also likely to mean increases in monthly water costs. According to Marshall, the cost of the project could result in monthly water costs potentially doubling, but considers this a price citizens will be willing to pay for the improved water quality.
“Right now we have one of the lowest water rates in the state, and afterwards we will still be in the lower 50% of the state,” said Marshall. “The fact that our water problems are aesthetic and isn’t a health hazard, that puts us low on the pole for grants.”
While filtration efforts would be addressed in this project, it still leaves water quality variable in specific homes based on the age of plumbing in each residence.