Palmyra is in the midst of a growth spurt, and the Board of Public Works has been busy with projects that boost efficiency and reliability for residents and business owners.
Board of Public Works (BPW) Superintendent Brent Abell said that city-wide utility projects are using state-of-the-art technology to ensure accurate billing and monthly reports, coupled with increased efficiency — affecting systems for drinking water, waste water treatment and electricity. With funding from a total of $4.5 million in lines of credit from local banks, the projects will not trigger a rate increase for customers.
The BPW had enough capitol improvement funds that they decided to take out lines of credit, instead pursuing a bond issue that would raise utility rates. A $1.5 million line of credit is slated for drinking water and waste water improvements, and the $3 million credit line is dedicated to electrical projects.
High-technology water and electric meters allow readings to travel through the air on a radio frequency (RF) network, removing the previous 60-day delay in billing. BPW employees can also shut off water meters remotely if necessary, and the previous six- to nine-day process of crews manually measuring the meter levels has been replaced with an electronic system that can repair itself, seeking out another RF path if communication is interrupted. So far, the system has provided increased accuracy and ease of use for BPW crews and customers, Abell said.
At the drinking water treatment plant, repair work and a dedicated dehumidifier took care of corroded pipes caused by excessive moisture.
"We’ve got a well-oiled machine," Abell said.
Along with the metering improvements — which consisted of about 2,100 new meters — BPW crews installed modern light-emitting diode (LED) street lights, netting an annual savings of $44,000 from the tougher, more efficient units. And big improvements are underway for wastewater treatment processes and electrical transmission lines.
BPW crew members are working with Kiowa Line Builders to rebuild the west electrical circuit in town, installing new wire, poles and transformers to boost the 2,400-volt circuit to 12,470 volts. The project is contracted for 270 days, and the end result will be a more reliable and efficient way to send electricity on a circuit that serves about 350 customers. And the number of customers will continue to grow, Abell said. The forthcoming Greystone Haven subdivision across from Palmyra High School would bring about 50 new homes to the community.
Wastewater treatment will improve with the installation of a screw press — a device that removes water from the waste, leaving behind solid material that can be taken to the landfill. Previously, BPW crews spread the waste across a plot of city-owned land, but the iron level has now exceeded Missouri Department of Natural Resources regulations. Before making the final decision to use a screw press, Abell and fellow BPW board members researched the screw press, including taking a trip to see how the screw press operated in Paris, Mo.
The BPW projects for the growing city were possible because "everyone comes to the table" for issues like these. Abell commended the BPW’s four-member board, the Palmyra City Council and residents from all walks of life for working together through strong channels of communication.
"I’m very happy to be here," Abell said. "I wouldn’t go anywhere else. It’s a great place to work."
Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org