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Water reservoir construction gets under way

CENTRAL POINT — Construction is set to begin next month on a 3-million-gallon water reservoir at Don Jones Park, and a large-scale solar project will be incorporated into the design to make the facility more cost-effective for the city.

The $5.5 million project, designed by Brown and Caldwell of Portland with community input, will provide for the city's water-storage needs for the next two decades. The reservoir, which will be built behind a landscaped berm, went out to bid earlier this month and should break ground in September, said Matt Samitore, parks and public works director.

Recommended in a water master plan completed in 2009 to assess the city's current and future water needs, the project will be funded largely from the state's Safe Water Revolving Loan Fund. The city will contribute $1.5 million to the project.

With part of the project funded through the state, and appropriated through the Environmental Protection Agency, the city was required to consider use of alternative energy.

Samitore said the city considered both solar and hydropower, and determined that only solar could generate enough energy to power the reservoir, especially during hot summer months when demand is high.

Samitore said the project would be the city's first venture into solar power.

An energy credit through the state will fund installation and maintenance of the facility through a third party.

"Based on a 15- to 20-year history of Pacific Power rates, this is a great deal for the city," Samitore said.

"Solar just makes a lot of sense, and if a third party does the installation for us it won't cost the city a cent. We basically will give them our business energy tax credit and they do it all for us. We won't even have to train staff on installation and maintenance of solar."

Construction of the reservoir is expected to take six to eight months.

Samitore said a community garden is planned north of the reservoir site.

Email freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.