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Jamestown water system upgrades likely for upcoming ethanol plant

JAMESTOWN -- Up to $1 million in upgrades may be necessary for the Jamestown water system to meet the requirements of a water sales contract under negotiations with Great River Energy.

The water will be used by the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant. The contract requires Jamestown to deliver an average of 620,000 gallons per day but have the capacity to meet a peak need of about 936,000 gallons per day.

The water would be transported from city water lines near Cavendish Farms to Dakota Spirit by pipes owned and operated by Stutsman Rural Water District.

Dakota Spirit AgEnergy broke ground in August and plans to be operational next year in the Spiritwood Energy Park east of Jamestown.

"Total yearly volume is not the issue," said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer. "The daily production is the problem. What can the wells produce, what can the plant process and what can the pipes transport?"

The Jamestown water system currently produces about 2 million gallons per day. It peaks during the heat of the summer, when many people are watering lawns, at about 6.5 million gallons.

"In terms of an average day it is up to about a 50 percent increase," Schwartzkopf said, referring to GRE water use. "But their peaks would occur at the same time the city has its peak use, the summer months."

Schwartzkopf said the city's total capacity is between 7 million and 7.5 million gallons per day.

"That is if everything is working," he said. "It really is not doable without major upgrades."

Cost estimates range from $750,000 to $1 million, Schwartzkopf said. The upgrades will increase pressure through portions of the system by up to 30 percent in an effort to move more water.

Any upgrade costs directly attributable to the water sale would be charged to GRE, said Jeff Fuchs, city administrator.

"We might adjust the rate to GRE or there could be a monthly debt service charge," he said. "It is all part of the negotiation. We'll recover it (the cost of the upgrades) one way or the other."

Fuchs said any portion of the project that benefited the whole system would be paid from the water utility funds collected from citywide water bills.

GRE will pay $3.05 per thousand gallons, according to Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen. That is the same rate paid by all other Jamestown users. Based on average use, that amounts to about $1,900 per day or $690,000 per year. Any charges for the upgrades would be over and above these amounts.

Any upgrades necessary to the system need to be completed by late summer or early spring, according to Schwartzkopf.

"The contract has been through a couple of revisions and we're looking to get that finalized soon," Andersen said. "We're looking at getting this (upgrade) finished as soon as possible."