NEWMAN - Work is proceeding on a new city well, which along with a million-gallon storage tank is expected to leave the municipal water system well-prepared to handle not only current demand but future needs.

The 530-foot well is being drilled on a two-acre site on Jensen Road, northwest of the current city but within the planned Northwest Newman project area.

Director of Public Works Kathryn Reyes said the overall project cost, which includes the well, storage tank and transmission lines connecting to the existing system, is estimated at $8.5 million.

“When the project is complete we will have a tank that will stabilize water pressure throughout the city and provide fire protection if we need it,” Reyes told Mattos Newspapers. “We are able to better protect the citizens of Newman.”

If a major well in the existing system failed during peak demand periods, Reyes said, the city could be facing a critical situation that could lead to more stringent water restrictions until the situation was remedied.

In the world of water supply, she added, “you have to have a little bit of a cushion. Extra availability is the key.”

The million-gallon tank is a critical component of the system, Reyes said.

The city’s current water tower holds about 75,000 gallons, she told Mattos Newspapers.

The larger tank will hold roughly a day’s supply of water, according to Reyes.

“If we had a catastrophic failure, we could still provide water,” she commented. “If something happened to the water system, we would be able to supply the town (at its current population) for a day.”

The city is using grant funds to the greatest extent possible to offset the cost of the improvements, Reyes noted.

A $500,000 grant covered the cost of designing the project, Reyes said, and a $400,000 grant is funding the well drilling.

The city is pursuing favorable financing through the state for the remainder of the project. Newman’s status as an economically disadvantaged community will increase the opportunity for grant money - which does not have to be repaid - or low-interest financing, Reyes explained.

“The city’s goal is to get grant funding for as much as possible, and then come in behind that with zero-interest or low-interest loans that will be repaid over the life of the system,” she said. “It will have a minimal impact on rates, which is one of our goals.”

The expanded system will also position the city to serve the Northwest Newman project, which is a mix of commercial, light industrial/business park and residential land uses.

Reyes said she hopes to see the new well and storage tank in use in the next 18 months to two years.

Drilling the well should take about 30 days, she said.

“Once it is done, it is all about getting the funding (for the remainder of the project). We have that application in,” she concluded.