EAGLE POINT — After a failed attempt to plug a major leak in the town's 3.6 million-gallon water reservoir, city officials are looking to hire an engineering firm to help fix it.

EAGLE POINT — After a failed attempt to plug a major leak in the town's 3.6 million-gallon water reservoir, city officials are looking to hire an engineering firm to help fix it.

"We've received a lot of responses," Public Works Director Robert Miller told the City Council at its Tuesday meeting. "Somewhere between 15 and 20."

The council is expected to award a contract at its May 8 meeting, and Miller anticipates the successful engineering firm will begin work a week later.

In addition to providing a plan to stop the leak, the selected firm is asked to analyze the existing water system with an eye toward improvements and to study the geology of the hillside surrounding the leaking tank and its 200,000-gallon neighbor.

Although a series of surveys beginning in 2009 show no ground movement around the reservoirs, city officials are concerned that water infiltrating into the hillside may have destabilized the area. So far, only a settling of the slope surrounding a nearby pumping station has been detected.

Before taking the leaking reservoir offline and switching the city over to its 4 million-gallon reservoir, Miller said the leak had slowed from its September 2011 high of 33 gallons per minute.

"Now that we've had a lot of the rains dissipate," he said, "it was leaking half that much — about 15-16 gallons."

Last month the city paid $18,000 to seal 980 feet of cracks in the reservoir's concrete floor pad, hoping that would end the leaks. It didn't.

"Does it surprise you the number of responses you're getting?" asked City Councilman Bill Fierke.

"I think it just shows the hungriness that's out there right now in the engineering world," Miller said.

If the 3.6 million-gallon tank can't be repaired by summer, Miller said the water system might not meet demand and conservation efforts by residents could be necessary.

Details of the city's request for engineering help are available on its website: www.cityofeaglepoint.org.

Freelance writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.