With grant award, Orofino plans water system upgrade

By Kathy Hedberg; The Lewiston Tribune

OROFINO — The city of Orofino will begin a long-range planning project to upgrade the city’s water distribution system following the recent award of a $110,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

The grant is part of a $2 million fund from the American Rescue Plan Act directed to DEQ from Gov. Brad Little.

“It’s old infrastructure on the water side,” said Orofino Mayor Sean Simmons. “These funds will be going to inflow and infiltration studies on our collection system. Orofino is fairly old … so we work on it a little bit each year and do what we can.”

Simmons said part of the problem is that when it rains in the spring, there is so much additional water that goes into the system that the city has to administer more treatment, which is an inefficient process.

The grant from DEQ includes $65,000 for wastewater planning and $45,000 for drinking water planning to prepare studies and environmental reviews to evaluate the system and develop alternatives for needed improvements.

The total eligible cost for the wastewater project is $130,000, and the drinking water project is $90,000. The remaining $110,000 will be funded by the city.

Simmons said a lot of areas in Orofino are built on bedrock where runoff seeps into the water table.

“If we can figure out where those extra incoming water is from, that will make our system more efficient,” he said.

A further component of the project involves evaluating distribution lines to make sure they are not leaking. Simmons said the city will be working on detecting the condition of those lines and planning for the future.

Because the city has been planning for this upgrade for some time, no hikes in water rates or taxes are expected, Simmons said.

“We were able to get that (grant) amount and we will have some matching funds, so we want to just make things better,” Simmons said. “All the infrastructure and the distribution lines are just so old, there’s many ways to mitigate and update without replacing them and we will look at that.

“We’re excited. It’s always about continuous improvement. If you’re not always looking to the future and looking to upgrade, you’re going backward.”

To view original article, please click here.