Surrey water woes

SURREY Improved fire safety and water pressure are among benefits that residents of Surrey will see with a two-year, $3.15 million infrastructure project.

The Surrey City Council recently approved construction of a new water tower, new water main and a pump station upgrade. The improvements are expected to cost property owners about $200 a year for 10 years. The North Dakota State Water Commission is offering a $1.5 million grant, which influenced the city to act now rather than wait.

About 40 residents attended a public meeting Feb. 24 to learn about the project prior to council approval. Antonio Conti, city engineer and project manager with AE2S, said a common question was whether the city’s growth is behind the need for a better water system. City growth is a minor factor in the need but a major factor in helping make the project affordable, he said.

A housing development is adding 400 to 450 lots to Surrey.

“It pretty much doubles up the lots available in town. Now cost is spread to double the people,” Conti said.

The main factor driving the project is fire safety, he explained.

Surrey’s public water storage could be depleted in two to three hours in a large fire that required major water pumping. The insurance rating agency visited Surrey last summer and did fire flow tests throughout town that showed that flow is below what is needed in critical areas, such as the school, Conti said.

The available fire flow at the school is around 300 gallons a minute. With the new water tower, the available fire flow will be 6,500 gallons a minute.

“The rating hasn’t been good for years,” Conti said. “With this improvement, the fire rating is going to get better.”

For residents, that should mean lower fire insurance premiums once the tower is built.

A new 400,000-gallon water tower to be completed in late summer 2015 near the high school will store eight days of water, compared to the current one day of water with an existing 50,000-gallon overhead tower. The existing tower will be demolished once the new one goes into use.

The city also has a $250,000 underground storage tank. The city receives water from North Prairie Rural Water District, and the city and district have a shared distribution system.

The new tower will provide more uniform water pressure. Presently, significant differences exist in water pressure around town.

Work will be done this year to update Surrey’s 31-year-old pump station near the reservoir. A new 12-inch water main will be installed from the pump station to the east side of town. The projects will increase water pressure to homes and businesses and improve fire flow to the older part of town.

The city currently is in the process of bidding this year’s work. The water tower project is in the design phase and could be bid in the fall.

Conti said a protest period is open for residents who want to challenge the amount of the assessments to be charged against their properties. The $200 assessment per lot or housing unit is based on water costs for a single-family residence.