Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner’s water woes dominated discussions during a city council meeting Oct. 1 with a consultant describing the current water situation in the city as urgent and fast approaching an emergency.
Jeffrey Klein, a project manager at Burns and McDowell, an engineering firm with vast experience in water projects, told the council that the city is running out of time, and the city may experience frequent shortages in the near future.
The company presented the city with several options to forestall shortages in the future including proposals to expand capacity from Hillsdale water reservoir, re-establishing Gardner Lake as a source and connecting the city’s system to Water One, the largest provider of water in the region.
Gardner’s current system out of Hillsdale reservoir is limited to 4 million gallons per day, a limit that has been surpassed twice between 2012 and 2018.
The city instituted a water restriction order on residents this summer and severely restricted sale of bulk water to residents of the surrounding unincorporated communities.
“Demand is outpacing supply and has moved from urgency to emergency,” he said adding that the city is projected to need 5 million gallons of water a day by 2020 and 7million gallons by 2027.
He recommended the city expand Hillsdale reservoir by adding three intake pumps, each handling 3 million gallons per day.
The project would cost $21 million and would be complete within 20-36 months.
No decision was made.

In other business
the city allowed RT Midwest Commerce to pursue a mortgage loan on the city owned building currently occupied by Coleman Corporation. The building, which is adjacent to New Century AirCenter, was originally financed by the city’s Industrial Revenue Bond and a tax abatement that expires next year. During the term of the abatement, the city owns fee title to the property and leases it to RT Midwest Commerce which in turn sub-leases it to Coleman.
In presentations to the council, Laura Gourley, interim city administrator, said by consenting to the request the city would not be risking any financial impact.
The council also authorized the city to issue general obligation bonds of up to $2, 475, 000 to pay for improvements to the city sewage systems.
Gourley said the money is earmarked for a lift station storage tank and the installation of a bridge crane at the kill Creek Lift Station.
During the meeting Matt Wolff was appointed Interim Finance Director. He replaces Gourley who was appointed Interim city administrator after the recent resignation Cheryl Harrison-Lee.