In a City Utility Commission meeting Thursday, Owensboro Municipal Utilities reported that its $46 million expansion of the William H. Cavin Water Treatment Plant is only two weeks behind schedule, which officials are thankful for after the amount of rainfall the area has seen in the last two months.
Set to be operational in May 2021, Cavin will move from treating 10 million gallons of water per day to 30 million, allowing for the decommissioning of OMU’s other treatment facility, Plant A, which was built in 1905. Currently, OMU treats 28 million gallons of water per day — 18 million at Plant A and 10 at Cavin.
“Plant A is an aging plant, we’ve known that for some time and were monitoring that,” said Sonya Dixon, OMU communications and public relations manager. “We started having some settlement issues and two water main breaks.”
Dixon said, although similar cast-iron based treatment facilities are common across the U.S., OMU is fortunate that Plant A has operated as long as it has.
“It has served us well,” she said. “But when you start having problems, you start having problems.”
The expansion of Cavin not only gets OMU away from the aging infrastructure that was the cause of two water main breaks, but it also serves as an investment for the public utility.
“It’s a big commitment,” Dixon said.
OMU’s Utility Commission approved the issuance of bonds and a two-step rate increase to fund the project last year.
Cavin Plant, which was built in 1994, was designed with expansion in mind. Engineers planned OMU’s second treatment facility to treat up to 40 million gallons of water, building in structural components to the plant that could eventually be utilized once OMU was ready for the expansion.
OMU Productions and Technical Services Manager Russ Evans said 25 years later, his team is using all of the expansion measures implemented during Cavin’s construction.
The first contract of the project, led by Garney Construction, will add a $6.7 million pipeline from Cavin to a water main near KY-54 and Wing Avenue. Plant A currently serves the west side of town, while Cavin feeds water to the eastern half of the city. Expanding Cavin to 30 million gallons of water per day meant connecting more pipe — 17,000 feet to be exact.
Evans said 2,000 feet have been laid so far at an average rate of 180 feet per day. This portion of the project was expected to be complete in March 2020, but Evans told the Utility Commission Thursday that crews are ahead of schedule and it will be completed in November of this year.
The second contract, led by Bowen Engineering, deals with the actual plant expansion, storage and equipment needed to treat the extra water, which will total $39.7 million. Although this project is two weeks behind schedule, Evans said he is happy with the timeline.
“Bowen came up with every creative way they could to work,” he said.
Although expanding Cavin means decommissioning Plant A, Evans looks forward to the new facility and the reliability and technology it will bring to treating the community’s water.
“This is going to be an extremely modern plant,” Evans said. “You will be able to run it from a tablet.”