The Glenwood Municipal Utilities Board believes it’s done everything in its power to protect the Glenwood Water Treatment plant from potential Missouri River floodwater.
“I think we’ve done everything that was humanly possible to protect that plant,” John Dean, chairman of the GMU board of directors said last week. “We did the best thing we could possibly do. Are we still going to lose it? I don’t know. That water could get 8 feet there, but in my lifetime it never has.”
What GMU has done in the past three weeks is construct a massive 10-foot berm around the plant, located east of Pacific Junction at 21482 Kane Ave. Dean and fellow members of the board decided to build the berm after being told by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that 4 - 5 feet of flood water could penetrate the plant should the area be flooded this summer.
“When the Army Corps of Engineers informed us we could possibly get 4 - 5 feet of water in the water plant, we got pretty concerned,” Dean said. “If we would get 4 or 5 feet in the water plant, it would destroy it. It would destroy the wells and it would destroy the pumps. It would destroy the whole thing. We would not be able to furnish water to Glenwood, to the state school, to Pacific Junction, to the rest home. It would be a disaster.
“What would we do if we had no water in Glenwood for 30 or 60 days? I don’t know. I tried to think of the possibilities – maybe some sort of pipe down from Council Bluffs to fill the tanks. I couldn’t come up with anything good.”
After hearing from the Corps of Engineers, the GMU board consulted its own engineers to develop a plan of attack. In addition to having 45,000 - 50,000 cubic yards of dirt hauled in to build the berm, the plant has been stocked with fuel and chemicals to keep operations going for up to three months in case the facility would become inaccessible by motor vehicle. Three pumps have been leased to handle seepage water that might make its way inside the berm.
Berms, 11-to-12 feet high, have also been built around two of the facility’s three wells. The third well has been capped.
“We removed the motor and sealed the well,” Glenwood Water Superin-tendent Dale Marshall said. “It was a protective measure to prevent it (well) from being damaged if the water does come in.”
Dean said all of the steps taken at the water plant are preventative measures, but the board believes the risks outweigh the financial costs.
“If we were to lose the plant, I don’t know what we would do,” Dean said. “I don’t know how much money we’re going to have in there - $500,000 to $750,000 is a ballpark guess. Now, that is going to add to the water bills, but we needed to do everything we could to protect the plant.”
The GMU board has not made a formal decision on the long-term future of the berm, but Dean expects it to remain in place permanently.
Dean said he’s optimistic the berm will never be tested by floodwater.
“That’s not in the 100-year flood plain,” he said. “I hope we did it for nothing.”