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Gladstone facing water issues as more people come

Gladstone leaders fear "a continual influx of people" is putting stress on the community's water system.

Mayor Kurt Martin said Monday the town's water pressure has weakened greatly as a result of an ongoing oil boom in the area.

"That's where the influx is coming from right now," he said. "There's no doubt about it."

Martin added that low water pressure is a problem that should be dealt with "sooner than later."

"We have certain times during the day where we just don't have very good water pressure in town," he said. "We've always known we need the project done, but now more so than ever."

Gladstone City Councilman Darcy Fossum said it is hard not to notice water problems.

"If they fill the fire trucks and you're in the shower, you'll notice the water pressure drops way down," Fossum said.

The city hired a contractor to analyze the water system, Martin said. He hopes a professional perspective from Jeremy Wood, project engineer for Northern Plains Engineering, will give officials ideas on how to strengthen Gladstone's water pressure.

Wood said he has spent the last two weeks studying the town's infrastructure, providing consultations on how to make it so the water system can "adequately" serve the community.

"We're going to size the lagoon and equate that to how many people we feel that that lagoon can be serviced by," Wood said.

Wood agrees with Martin in that more oil workers means a greater strain on the water system.

"I would say that water pressure is a problem, especially when you add more users to it," he said. "As more people move into Gladstone, they're using more services, and that's going to decrease water pressure."

Woods has also experienced the town's water woes.

"I actually lived in Gladstone for a while, and I can testify that there is weak water pressure," he said.

Woods added that water pipe should be 6 inches in diameter. Some water pipes in Gladstone are 2-1/2 to 3 inches wide, which he said is "unorthodox."

Mary Massad, manager and CEO of Gladstone's water provider Southwest Water Authority, said 6 inches is still not good enough.

"Their piping going from the water tower into town is undersized," she said. "It should be at least 8 inches."

Massad also said she does not think more water from her company is necessarily the right answer.

"If there was something we could do, we most certainly would," she said.

In the meantime, Woods will continue to study the city's infrastructure. He expects his analysis will be done by the beginning of March.