The long, warm and dry fall has meant good progress has been made on the construction of Pierre’s planned $37.5 million drinking water treatment plant in the north end of Steamboat Park.

PKG Contracting based in Fargo, which specializes in water treatment plants, and Scull Construction Services from Rapid City, are in charge of the construction part of the project and are charged with keeping its cost at about $33.1 million, city leaders say. The engineering and design, done by AE2S based in Grand Forks, North Dakota, is expected to cost about $4.4 million.

It will solve what has been a long-time issue in Pierre: the water taken for decades from a dozen wells near the Missouri River is high in minerals, especially manganese, city leaders say.  The water has always been deemed safe by federal and state officials but it stains sidewalks, outdoor walls and indoor fixtures.

The new plant will draw the water from the Missouri River, upstream near the railroad bridge, using a pump station on the river bank between the railroad bridge and the John C. Waldron highway bridge. The pump station, also already partly built thanks to the good weather, will move the water through a big plastic pipe under the Waldron bridge to the new treatment plant in Steamboat Park.

Water taken from the river itself, not from the wells, has very little manganese, say officials of AE2S, a company that puts in municipal water treatment plants across the Dakotas and Minnesota.

Not long after the water treatment plant is up and running, a new Waldron Bridge is slated to be standing just a few feet north of the current one.

City Commissioner Blake Barringer gave other commissioners and the public a short update on the construction during the Tuesday, Nov. 24 meeting.

Barringer, who is an engineer, mentioned the 700 feet and more of plastic pipe needed to get the river water into the treatment plant and the measures being used to foil zebra mussels from foiling the water intake.

He shared photos and praised the weather.

“They are really moving along and doing a good job,” Barringer said.

Mayor Steve Harding made a new water treatment plant one of his top two or three missions when he was elected in June 2017.

A June 2018 election measure found 73% of voters were for it, even though the new plant will increase average water bills about 60%.

Harding said the plan is to have the new water plant operating in time to provide better water for the city’s new $13 million outdoor swimming pool when it’s completed.

“Looking at things, we are going to have another week of good weather here, so we can make some really good progress,” Harding said this week.

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