Fort Gibson officials seek to expand its water plant capacity more than 40 percent to accommodate a growing population.
Mayor Brad Clinkenbeard said the city is exploring the possibility of building a new water treatment plant on the site of its current facility.
The Fort Gibson Utility Authority will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. March 24 at City Hall to discuss water treatment plans. A public notice for the meeting said plans call for extension of the water plant from 2.8 million gallons per day to 4 million gallons a day, plus a new process building, chemical feed building, lab control building and improvements to current facilities.
Clinkenbeard said the city must plan for growth in area population. He said Fort Gibson has 4,500 residents.
“Over the next 10 years, projections of growth are about 15 percent,” he said. An additional 15 percent would mean a population of 5,175.
“Fort Gibson also serves at least four rural water districts and Whitlock,” said Clinkenbeard, who works as manager of Rural Water District 7. “In my water district, I have two different housing additions going in.”
He said one housing addition is for 35 homes, the other is for 120. He said an addition for 140 residents is going in on South Willey Street.
“Fort Gibson has to plan for that expansion as well as town expansion,” Clinkenbeard said. “Water districts have come to the city and informed them they have all these housing sites coming online in the next 12 to 18 months and they want to make sure Fort Gibson can serve all those people. We don’t want to be behind when this happens.”
The town is working with the firm of Holloway, Updike and Bellen on water plant plans.
“He’s drawing up plans to help start the permitting process,” Clinkenbeard said. “It’s a five-year process to do a water plant, with three phases — engineering, funding and construction.”
Clinkenbeard said the city now is in a “pre-engineering stage.”
Parts of the water plant date to the 1960s, he said. Updates were made in the 1990s and around 2006.
Water plant employee Bonnie Cox said the plant has a “good capacity.”
“What we can actually make right now is 4 million gallons a day, with everything at maximum capacity,” Cox said. “The most we ever run is 2 1/2 million gallons a day, and that would be in the summer when it’s hot.”
Clinkenbeard said rehabilitating the plant would cost about $2 million, while a new plant could cost about $8 million. Funding possibilities could come through the Eastern Oklahoma Development District or the Cherokee Nation, he said.
“We’re looking at 2018 to start construction,” Clinkenbeard said. “Then, we would hope to have it done by 2020.”
Figuring that a water plant has a life of 40 years, Clinkenbeard said a new plant would be operable until 2060.
“At least our kids and grandkids could have plenty of water,” he said.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.