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At their regularly scheduled meeting on January 23, 2023, the Lewiston City Council voted to approve a continuance of the Local Disaster Emergency.
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At approximately 4:00 a.m., on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, a rupture occurred to the City of Lewiston’s high reservoir located along 16th Avenue in Lewiston. This rupture caused approximately three-million gallons of water to be released from the reservoir and resulted in localized flooding. City staff were at the scene during the incident and worked immediately to secure and assess the situation. An incident command system was promptly established nearby at the Lewiston Police Training Center facility. A Boil Water Alert Order was established at roughly 6:50 a.m. Mayor Daniel Johnson issued a Declaration of Local Disaster Emergency at approximately 11:30 a.m., and the Nez Perce County Commissioners voted to support the declaration. It was then sent to the Governor’s office for review.
The Lewiston City Council declared an emergency at a Special Meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2023, and unanimously voted to authorize city personnel to spend up to $200,000 to purchase materials and services necessary to repair or replace water system infrastructure without needing to follow formal bidding procedures. “Essentially this expedites the process, if needed, to ensure staff can respond quickly to this emergency,” Public Works Director Dustin Johnson said. “This work is being done to help isolate the reservoir from the remainder of the city’s system.” View Resolution 2023-6, Emergency Expenditures - Water Storage.
Between January 18th and January 25th, the City of Lewiston Public Works Department worked around the clock to restore regular service to water customers that remained under the boil water order. On January 25, 2023, staff drained the reservoir and were successful in isolating the reservoir and switching that portion of the water system to a different water source.
The Boil Water Order was lifted on January 26, 2023, at approximately 5:00 p.m. The purpose of the Boil Water Order was precautionary. Since a rupture occurred and there was a hole in the reservoir, exposing the water it held to the atmosphere, it was open to possible contaminants, according to standards and regulations set by the Department of Environmental Quality. Water samples were taken daily and they all came back showing no contaminants. After the Boil Water Order was lifted, operational staff went to work trying to balance out the system, while other staff continued working with engineers and consultants to analyze how to address the lack of stored water in the system.
On February 7, 2023, Mayor Daniel Johnson issued an Order Terminating the Local Disaster Emergency order originally instated on January 18, 2023.
A technical document/update was presented to city staff on February 23, 2023, which outlined different scenarios for an interim fix to the reservoir. These scenarios were evaluated on their availability, price, and longevity.
On March 27, 2023, the Lewiston City Council approved a resolution for the scope of services for a recommendation to reuse the high reservoir. The proposal was to repair what was there and present a design with enough water-holding capacity to provide enough water storage to meet the City’s irrigation requirements.
On April 17, 2023, the consulting engineering firm notified the Public Works Director that the first plan option would not be viable based on the compressed timeframe. The team immediately began moving forward with exploring a modified plan.
Irrigation restrictions for all City of Lewiston water customers within the highlighted service area shown on this map were initiated and will remain in effect until further notice. These customers are being asked to use hand-watering methods only. This involves using a hand-held hose equipped with an automatic shut-off mechanism, such as a pistol nozzle, a trigger-spray hose nozzle, or other automatic positive shut-off nozzles.
Due to a need for additional funds for the High Reservoir restoration repairs, Council approved an amendment to the previous resolution authorizing emergency expenditures, authorizing an additional $2,600,000.
At a special meeting held on May 4, 2023, the Lewiston City Council approved the newly proposed solution, which includes removing the damaged roof of the high reservoir, placing a liner inside the high reservoir, and covering the high reservoir with a floating cover.
Demolition of the City's high reservoir roof structure is currently in progress. Once the demolition is completed, the site cleanup will commence, followed by the construction of the concrete reservoir walls. We understand the importance of keeping our community informed, and we will make sure to provide updates on the progress of this project.
Please note that irrigation restrictions remain in effect for the City of Lewiston water customers within the service area identified on the service area map, which can be accessed at https://www.cityoflewiston.org/752/Irrigation-Restrictions.
With the temperatures rising, the demand for irrigation water is also on the rise. City staff is keeping a close eye on the water system and how it is functioning as the temperatures continue to climb. Based on how the system continues to run as temperatures rise, modifications may be made to irrigation restrictions.
The demolition and cleanup of the City's high reservoir roof structure is complete. All the materials depicted in the photo provided in the slideshow shown above have been removed from the site. Moving forward, the next step will be to prep the concrete structure and piping. Staff is also finalizing the construction design for approval through the Department of Environmental Quality.
Please note that irrigation restrictions remain in effect for City of Lewiston water customers within the service area identified on the service area map, which can be accessed at https://www.cityoflewiston.org/752/Irrigation-Restrictions.
As temperatures rise, the demand for irrigation water increases. Our city staff closely monitors the water system's functionality in response to these rising temperatures. Thanks to our customers' understanding and cooperation, we have successfully averted a system failure despite the high demand for irrigation water during this season. Historical water usage data confirms that, without the community’s water conservation efforts, the normal demand would have surpassed the available water supply.
Staff have been working closely with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding proposed future construction plans. The DEQ has assured staff that they will work in partnership with the City to expeditiously review the submittals provided. Given the unique circumstances, everyone involved with the project is working to find ways to get the high reservoir back on line as quickly and as safely as possible. As of today, the most critical item that will impact the schedule is the procurement, manufacturing, and delivery of the materials necessary for the project. Currently, everything remains on schedule.
Why hasn't the City loosened irrigation restrictions? Unfortunately, it is not feasible to lift the restrictions in the high zone, which encompasses the area from Normal Hill to Bryden and heavily relies on wells from other zones due to the absence of stored water in the high reservoir.
Lewiston's irrigation restrictions are unique compared to more traditional water conservation efforts typically implemented in other communities. Unlike water conservation measures implemented due to insufficient water supply, Lewiston has an abundance of water to serve its customers. Therefore the limitation isn't the amount of water available, instead, the issue is the capacity of the current system to deliver water efficiently.
The undersized pipes used to transfer water from the wells to the high zone were not designed to be transmission mains. In essence, the current infrastructure is unable to keep up with the demand, akin to trying to drink through a small straw, during peak usage. Additionally, the presence of multiple pressure zones within the system, dictated by the local topography, makes it challenging to provide designated irrigation windows for entire neighborhoods.
Our primary objective is to prevent sudden surges in demand that could potentially overwhelm the system. While there is capacity within the system, a significant portion of it needs to be reserved for fire flow demand, ensuring public safety in case of emergencies. We are exploring ways to allocate some of the system's capacity without compromising our ability to provide adequate fire flow.
At present, the system is capable of satisfying two out of the three major demands: fire flow, and domestic usage, but not regular irrigation. We are working to find a balance that allows for additional irrigation allocation without encroaching on the crucial fire flow capacity.
Individuals who are disabled or elderly may be eligible for an alternative watering schedule tailored to their needs. To inquire about this option and obtain further information, please contact the City of Lewiston Public Works office at 208-746-1316 or reach out via email at email@example.com. Our team will be happy to assist you and provide additional details.
Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this complex situation together. We remain committed to exploring alternatives that strike the right balance between meeting our community's diverse needs while maintaining the water system's safety and stability.
The on-site preparation work for the city's high reservoir wrapped up this month, following the completion of repairs to the exposed wall. The Liner materials arrived on June 16th, and crews will begin the installation process this week.
The floating lid will be the next phase in the repair process, and that is expected to arrive the first week of July.
The project remains on schedule at 65% complete.
Irrigation restrictions remain in place. More information about restrictions can be found at https://www.cityoflewiston.org/752/Irrigation-Restrictions.
The installation of the liner for the high reservoir has been successfully completed, marking a significant milestone. Furthermore, the installation of the floating cover has commenced this week, bringing us closer to the project's completion.
In the upcoming phases, our focus will be on commissioning the new piping network, a crucial step in ensuring the seamless functionality of the reservoir.
As a reminder, please note that irrigation restrictions will remain in effect until the high reservoir is fully operational again. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this period.
Irrigation restrictions will remain in effect until the high reservoir is back online.
Public Works Director Dustin Johnson has signed an order for the Termination of Outdoor Irrigation Restrictions.
Now that the City’s high reservoir is restored, irrigation restrictions have been lifted for all City of Lewiston water customers. Final modifications, including installing the liner and floating cover, were completed earlier this month. After these important steps were taken, proper disinfection and testing was completed, ensuring that the water and the infrastructure meets industry standards for daily use.
Although the irrigation restrictions have been lifted, the City of Lewiston respectfully asks water users to gradually resume their irrigation practices in the coming days. During the restriction period, the public water system was utilized at a reduced rate. By slowly increasing irrigation consumption, we can ensure the smooth operation of the mechanical systems to handle the typical summer water demands and allow sufficient time for the grass to absorb the water.
“The City of Lewiston appreciates the community's understanding as we have navigated these monumental challenges over the last six months,” Public Works Director Dustin Johnson said. “Credit goes to the people who put in long hours in difficult conditions to get the water system back to normal.”
“This signifies an important step forward in our journey to recovery,” Mayor Dan Johnson said. “The City is committed to investing in its valuable assets, including critical infrastructure. This unforeseen incident came with challenges, but our community’s resilience shines through.”
View all High Reservoir Restoration Project updates on the City's website at: https://www.cityoflewiston.org/755/High-Reservoir-Restoration-Project.