New Water Distribution System

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Big Solutions for a
Small Town Water System

Project Owner:
City of Revere, MN

Key Experience:

  • Successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, with four separate construction contracts and 100% remote funding agency coordination
  • Secured 86% grant through USDA RD, and DEED SCDP funding
  • Replaced water meters with remotely read automatic reading system. High accuracy meters increased revenue and decreased water loss
  • Replaced aging ACP pipe with new PVC - reducing public health risk and greatly reducing risk of water main breaks

Key Features:

  • Entirely new water distribution system
  • All new water meters
  • Demolition of existing water tower
  • Improved water quality with connection to Red Rock Rural Water System

The City of Revere, MN faced a familiar challenge for rural communities in the upper Midwest. The City’s aging water infrastructure was in need of upgrades. But with a declining population and many residents on a fixed income, there were limited resources to pay for costly repairs and maintenance of their failing water system. The water mains, valves and hydrants in the community needed to be replaced, the water tower needed to be repainted, and there was no treatment or back-up supply for the one and only well in town. In need of assistance, The City reached out to DGR Engineering (DGR) as a trusted water professional in the region to help them find a solution.

Aging Water Infrastructure
The existing water infrastructure was installed in the mid-1900s and included water mains which were constructed using asbestos-cement pipe (ACP), which was approaching the end of its useful life. As ACP ages it becomes brittle, making it difficult to repair. With the presence of asbestos fibers in the pipe material, ACP can be a health risk when the pipe is cut during repairs or when cracked. The City was also experiencing a water loss of over 18%. The town’s mechanical water meters were over 40 years old and were suspected to be contributing to the system’s water loss, in the form of unmetered water.

The City’s water tower was over 70 years old with a coating system that was in poor condition and showed visible signs of pitting in the steel. The most recent water tower inspection recommended a complete blast and re-coating of the tower, which would require special consideration for lead paint removal and other improvements to bring the structure into compliance with OSHA safety standards.

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Alternative Water Supply
The City’s water supply consisted of a single production well drilled in 1982 at a depth of approximately 200 feet. Although the well was still in good operating condition, there was no back-up well and no standby generation to ensure continuous water supply in the event of a power outage or failure/maintenance of the existing well. The Minnesota Department of Health imposed a requirement on the City to obtain a backup water source, either by drilling a second well or connecting to a regional water system.
The City’s water source was untreated except for chlorine injection for disinfection. The water quality of the existing well met all state and federal primary drinking water standards, but there were several contaminants that exceeded the non-mandatory secondary drinking water standards. High concentrations of iron, sulfates and total dissolved solids created taste, color and odor concerns within the community. The City needed a solution that not only provided a redundant water supply, but also improved water quality.

Funding Assistance
The City wanted an engineering study that would identify necessary water system improvements and establish a budget for financing those improvements. DGR assisted the City in securing a Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households (SEARCH) grant through USDA Rural Development to fund 100% of the cost of a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and Environmental Assessment (EA). The report recommended full replacement of the water distribution system, new water meters with an automated meter reading (AMR) system, demolition of the water tower, abandonment of the existing well and chemical feed building, and a water service connection to the regional rural water system, Red Rock Rural Water System.

With an estimated price tag of over $1.1 million, and a small population, The City needed a comprehensive solution to help make the water system improvements affordable for its residents. The City's median household income made it eligible to receive a grant through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) for public facility improvements.

The SCDP public facility grant was packaged with financing through Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program that included additional grant funding and a low interest loan. The City’s final funding package included over 86% grant, keeping the project costs affordable for the town’s residents.


Project Design and Construction
With funding secured for the project, The City asked DGR to proceed with final design of the improvements recommended in the PER. Because of the unique nature of each type of work, the final design entailed separate construction contracts for the water distribution system replacement, water metering system replacement, water tower demolition and the connection to the Red Rock Rural Water System.

The water distribution contract was bid in February of 2020. By May of 2020, the water distribution contractor started construction. By the end of the year, all water main and services had been replaced, new water meters had been installed and the system was connected to Red Rock’s system. Once the connection was made to Red Rock, Revere residents said their final goodbyes to the City’s 73-year-old water tower.

Today, The City’s residents enjoy high quality water that comes to them in a new and reliable distribution system. City staff rest comfortably knowing the risk of water main breaks during cold winter nights is now greatly reduced, and customers are being accurately billed for usage. Thanks to a generous funding package, it was all done with a reasonable impact to user rates that was well received by the City’s residents.

In the end, the City of Revere completed a project that met their objectives, budget, and schedule. DGR staff is proud to have played a key role in this successful project.

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