Businesses who buy and haul large amounts of water in bulk from a fire hydrant on Oak Street in Bonne Terre are now having to look elsewhere for their supply.
The Oak Street hydrant no longer has a meter or pump for them to fill from and to record. Previously, based on an honor system, they would pay the city at the end of the month according to their self-recorded usage.
During a recent city council meeting, City Administrator Shawn Kay discussed his reasons for discontinuing the bulk water sales.
The main problem was the potential for back flow of contaminants into the potable water system.
“We have a very difficult time making sure we don’t have back flow into our system from one of these hydro seeding trucks,” he said. He said there are back flow preventions, but they require a lot of maintenance and can freeze in the winter.
“Short of building a station like Farmington did,” Kay said, “… there’s no safe way to do it.”
Several years ago the city of Farmington installed a bulk water sales connection in the west-side industrial park. The water is metered and charged much like a car wash. Customers pay the cost via a point-of-sale device on the large hydrant.
Kay told the council there are not enough companies to justify the expense of building a station.
“There are very few of those accounts, and they are based on the honor system,” Kay said. “They are very difficult for us to manage with a small staff, so it would be really difficult to try to have someone there to monitor every time someone wanted water.”
“There’s really no money in it for the city,” Kay concluded. “It’s really just a service we’ve been providing, and it’s difficult to protect the safety of our water system with no back flow prevention. It’s my suggestion that the council discontinue it at this time.”
“Most cities don’t allow this anymore?” Alderwoman Andrea Richardson asked. Kay said no.
“We will grandfather the three businesses that currently have that service, but we will not be allowing any new ones,” Kay said.
Fire Chief Dave Pratte said that it would be an improvement over all to the water system.
It was asked how remediation companies that relied on the source would get their water.
Kay replied that the station in Farmington would work.
The board approved the conclusion of the bulk water sales.