By July 2020, the many hotels, motels, retailers and businesses north of Interstate 70 will have a new water line and booster station to serve as backup if the sole main and pump station there now go out.

Hays City Commissioners on Thursday voted to build a second water line to serve the growing area north of I-70.

The project, at a total cost of $844,238, will add a new 12-inch water main and a new above-ground booster pump station as a backup to an existing 16-inch water main that serves the area.

By adding the new line and station, it will also bring higher water pressure to the northwestern areas of the city, according to Jeff Crispin, the city’s director of water resources.

The existing booster station is on 41st Street, with water fed north by the 16-inch line that crosses under I-70, Crispin told the commissioners at their regular meeting on Thursday at city hall.

The existing line and a 500,000-gallon water tower north of I-70 were built in 1993 when there were just a few businesses on that side of the interstate, he said.

“In the last 26 years we’ve seen growth in this area of many businesses that are vital to the economy of the area, and the daily needs of our residents, surrounding communities, and travelers along I-70 or US 183,” Crispin said. “A failure of this single line under I-70 would have huge consequences for us to be able to provide water for use as well as for fire protection for everything north of I-70. The economic impact of being without water service north of I-70 for any length of time would be significant.”

Typical water main breaks, from the time they are reported until service is restored, take about four hours, Crispin said.

“We do that pretty quick, but as I have mentioned before, and as you may imagine, we cannot go through and start digging up I-70,” Crispin said. “Approval to bore a new line using federal or state officials and the work itself would take us probably weeks in order to get that rolling again.”

Midlands Contracting Inc. of Kearney, Nebr., won construction of the project, with the low bid of $769,678. Construction will start as soon as Midlands can mobilize, Crispin said, with the main and station up and running by July 2020.

The new line will cross I-70 at Hall Street, connecting the 12-inch water main from 45th and Hall streets to an existing dead-end line along 48th Street at the west property line of Carrico Implement.

The new booster pump station will sit on four acres of city-owned property along west 41st Street, east of Post Road near city water well No. 32, Crispin said.

Working in tandem with the existing underground booster station, the new one will have room to expand, he said. It’ll be powered by electricity, with a standby generator in case electricity goes out. The current booster station requires a generator to be brought in.

“Typical pressures in the areas north of 41st Street right now are probably 10 to 15 psi less than areas to the south,” Crispin said. “Obviously this varies due to the elevations, but the further south of town you get the higher the pressures tend to be.”

Asked if a 12-inch line is sufficient, instead of a 16-inch, Crispin said it would be plenty.

“Once we create that loop, we have a continuous supply of water through that area, through both lines and booster stations, and that’ll provide adequate pressure,” he said.

Commissioner Shaun Musil asked about the footprint of the booster station on the property.

Crispin said the building will be small.

“I was just curious, thinking of the future use of that land,” Musil said.

“The biggest part of that four acres will actually still be usable,” Crispin said.

“So if we develop that potentially down the road as a fire station, we still have the full footprint of usage?” asked City Manager Toby Dougherty.

“Yes,” Crispin said.

Money for the project is in the city’s capital improvement plan in the 2019 budget from the water capital fund. With its low bid, Midlands beat out three other bidders for the project: M&D of Hays Inc., Smoky Hill LLC, Salina, and Middlecreek Corp., Peabody.

Cost so far has been about $60,000 when the city earlier hired Kaw Valley Engineering, Junction City, to design the project, which was recommended by Bartlett & West Engineers, Topeka. It’ll take about $14,000 for inspection, which will be done in-house with Kaw Valley’s help, Crispin said.