Water well or ground storage tank?

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Eyeing a new elementary school for Sealy Independent School District and overall projected growth, Sealy City Council is looking at a potential water well on the north side of Sealy to combat future needs.

O’Malley Strand Associates, Inc., engineer Kelly Hajek presented a cost analysis to city council during a Jan. 31 special meeting.

“The city discussed with us that an elementary school is being built out on FM 2187. They said that the volume of water that comes from a 12-inch (water) line is not enough to serve the school, especially [regarding] fire flows,” Hajek said.

O’Malley was asked to perform a cost estimate for drilling a new well.            

“[This] would serve the north side of town. This had been discussed years prior, also the option of just building a ground storage tank at the school to provide water for fire suppression,” Hajek said.

Two cost estimates were presented to council.

“One is to drill a new well that would be equivalent to the one on Ward Bend (Road). That cost for engineering and construction is about $3.3 million. To build a ground storage tank at the school with a prefabricated pumping station, to serve only the school, it would cost about $1.3 million,” Hajek said.

The storage tank at the school is sized based on the information provided by the engineer for the school, Hajek said.

“They said they needed 1,000 gallons per minute. The standard practice for fire suppression is two to four hours. Because it is an elementary school, we went ahead and were conservative and used four hours,” Hajek said.

Hajek said this gave them a tank size of roughly 250,000 gallons.

Councilmember Michael Kubricht said they would have to acquire property to build this well upon and Hajek agreed.

Councilmember Jennifer Sullivan asked if the estimates are something council needs to choose between or something that must be done at the same time.

“If you did the new well on the north side, then you would only do the well and tie everything in with transmission lines and there would be no need for the ground storage tank at the school. The ground storage tank would be used in place of drilling the new well for the city,” Hajek said.

Sullivan asked if the reason for doing the well is in response to growth.

“That would serve the whole north side of town. I believe in our meeting that city staff mentioned that there is future development going on or that someone is looking at developing land on that side of town,” Hajek said.

Mayor Mark Stolarski said one concern he has about this location being along Hwy 36 is that it is prime commercial real estate.

“This is going to limit our tax revenue from that area. However, if we go somewhere [over here] then that will be a lower tax revenue that we will be losing. I am expecting all along (FM)1094 all the way to Cat Spring to be a lot of residential development, while there is commercial development on [Hwy] 36,” Stolarski said.

Hajek said these well locations were provided to them just as potential options and they are not set in stone.

“It would be best to have a water model and determine what is best for the need and necessary for the city. Normally we do a well sighting study that will determine a better location,” Hajek said.

Kubricht asked about the $3.3 million well and around how many homes that would supply or square miles.

“Because of expansion in that area, you never really can predict or expansion. I am just trying to get an idea of around how many homes it would be able to supply, or businesses,” Kubricht said.

Hajek reiterated that this well would be the same as the well on Ward Bend Road.

“This well puts out close to 1,000 gallons [per minute] according to the information I have,” she said.

Councilmember John Hinze brought up the school engineer’s price listing for an onsite tank that could potentially cost around $600,000.

“That may have been for the tank by itself,” Hajek said.

Hinze asked if a water tower would be needed as well.

“It would be a well that would pump to a ground storage tank and then you have booster pumps and a pump house that pumps from the ground storage tank to the city’s system,” Hajek said.

City Manager Larry Kuciemba said he plans to talk with school staff and engineer soon to compare plans so that council can give a recommendation.

No action was taken on this issue.

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