CENTRAL POINT — A planned 3-million-gallon reservoir should handle the city's water storage needs for at least the next 20 years, city officials said.

CENTRAL POINT — A planned 3-million-gallon reservoir should handle the city's water storage needs for at least the next 20 years, city officials said.

Bidding for the project, a $5.6 million upgrade to double the city's water-storage capacity, will close July 28.

The city will use a loan from the state for the engineering and construction costs. The land was purchased and infrastructure built with $1.5 million from water system fees and other city funds, City Administrator Phil Messina said.

The planned reservoir will be adjacent to Don Jones Memorial Park off Vilas Road, in an open field east of the Oregon Fallen War Heroes Memorial.

Public Works and Parks Director Matt Samitore said the project was recommended in a water master plan completed last year that assessed current and future water needs of residents and businesses. The assessment showed water-storage capacity was a problem during hot summer months, when residents sometimes were asked to curb their water use.

The city has a 2-million-gallon storage tank on Old Stage Road near Beall Lane and a 1-million-gallon tank at the public works shop near downtown, a few blocks from City Hall.

"Our water master plan showed that we need a two- or, better, a three-million gallon reservoir to meet the demands and serve our residents and businesses and meet potential growth for the next 20 years," Samitore said.

"Storage capacity has been an issue during higher-usage times like summer, when residents water their lawns and fill up swimming pools," he said.

"In the old core of downtown, some of the old water lines cause some fire-flow deficiencies where, if we had one fire in one part of town and another erupted, we may not be able to fight that other fire. We viewed that as a pretty serious threat to our infrastructure, so we applied to the state for a loan to help increase the capacity."

Samitore said the city would strive for a minimally intrusive structure. Officials have looked at similar projects where the tank has been buried or built into a landscaped berm, with a park area built on top.

City officials will award the project to a winning bidder by late August and expect the project to begin by spring.

Buffy Pollock is a writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.