Clean, Consistent Water Supply for a Growing Community
Relationships and partners are critical to any company undertaking a large system upgrade while continuing to balance customer needs. WEB Water Development Association, Inc., has been carefully managing projects and serving its members successfully for years while also preparing for future growth.
“When our system was constructed in the ‘80s, no one was anticipating the extensive industrial growth we’ve seen in the past 20 years, including the addition of multiple ethanol plants,” said Angie Hammrich, WEB Water’s general manager. WEB Water knows that availability of water is essential for economic development.
Serving 112 bulk services throughout its northeastern South Dakota service territory, WEB Water provides safe, quality water to more than 8,000 customers across 9,300 square miles, including homes, farms and other businesses of all sizes.
Due to capacity constraints, WEB Water imposed a moratorium on adding new bulk members and had previously imposed moratoriums on six geographical regions. Now, it’s breaking free of the logjam and adding six million gallons to its daily treatment capacity through a water treatment plant expansion.
As a first step, in 2021 WEB Water installed a new $1.2 million intake screen that more than doubled the amount of water that can flow into the treatment facility to 17 million gallons a day.
The new intake screen ensures consistent and sufficient water supply, which is essential for the entire system to function, while also screening for Zebra mussels, invasive mollusks infesting America’s fresh water supply that can clog water pipes. The system also installed generators at the plant and intake point to support the expansion, a $4.5 million project to ensure reliability.
WEB Water has faced another set of challenges in building the expansion: supply chain constrictions and inflationary pressures have driven prices skyward, nearly doubling the original cost for the expansion project, though the increase was offset somewhat by under-budget costs on previous projects. Connecting the increased water flow to the distribution system also required a new mainline parallel pipe, a separate $40 million undertaking. Both projects are expected to break ground in 2023, with the water treatment plant expansion financed during construction by CoBank, as were the early, supporting projects.
“CoBank has been integral from our preliminary steps to the current projects, including being responsive in increasing our financing to meet the exploding costs,” said Hammrich. “They’ve been a great partner for more than 20 years, in part because they have the funds and expertise to respond to needs like these, and much faster than other funding sources.”