September 22, 2023

Professional services secured for construction of new Jordan Well

After current well was struck by lightning, staff want a backup for added redundancy

WaterWorks Superintendent Todd Pierce points out the location of the Jordan Well, which was struck by lightning in late February and had to be repaired. The well is the main water source for Newton. Staff worked tirelessly to fix it and plan on adding a second Jordan Well in the future, which would provide redundancies in case situations like this happened again.

Lightning struck the Jordan Well, Newton’s main water source, in late February, and at that time WaterWorks staff were able to temporarily repair the damages and get the well back to working order; but utilities director Jody Rhone also knew the addition of a second Jordan Well was a likely project in years to come.

During the May 15 city council meeting, the professional services for the construction of a new Jordan Well was unanimously approved. Fox/Strand Engineering of Ames will be providing the services for more than $518,000, and includes design, bidding, funding assistance and construction-related services.

According to city documents, the project will be bid in three separate construction contracts: well construction; well pump, electrical and site work; and transmission main. State Revolving Fund money will be used to finance the project. Bids for all three projects will be received at the same time and location.

Tentatively, the city estimates the design phase to be completed by Dec. 29 of this year. The city also estimates the bidding phase to be completed by March 29, 2024, but the construction likely won’t be completed until Dec. 31, 2025. But these dates could change depending on a variety of factors.

The current Jordan Well is pumping out 1,700 gallons of water per minute with the 250-horsepower pump that replaced the one damaged by the lightning strike. Prior to the incident, the well was pumping out 2,200 gallons per minute with a 300-horsepower pump.

In a report to city council members about the lightning strike, Newton City Administrator Matt Muckler praised the WaterWorks staff for going above and beyond to make sure residents have a plentiful and safe supply of water. Those staff members “deserve our gratitude for doing a great job under pressure.”

Newton Daily News previously reported that Muckler also lamented the insufficient funding of capital improvements over the years has left WaterWorks with a lack of redundancy and has created challenges to providing an adequate supply of water.

“We are fortunate to have utilities director Jody Rhone leading that effort,” Muckler said. “It is clear that the city council’s appointment of Jody as our new utilities director to focus on WaterWorks and the Water Pollution Control Plant was a great decision.”

By adding a new Jordan Well, it would obviously increase water capacity, but it also makes Newton meet compliance with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Property tax dollars would not go toward the new Jordan Well, and Rhone is already seeking grants to pay for a one-third or one-fourth the costs.

One of the grants Rhone is seeking is a $2 million loan at 2 percent interest from a federal government program. Rhone has already submitted his application for the design and engineering services, and it is currently in review with the IDNR.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.