JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri American Water broke ground on new water intake pipelines to draw water from the Missouri River and a water pumping station that will pump the water from the river to the water treatment plant. The project will replace obsolete local infrastructure that is 50 to 120 years old. This significant investment will also expand the capacity of the intake and pumping station to deliver water to the water treatment plant to meet peak plant capacity, even at low river levels.

To help ensure reliable water delivery from the river, a 20-foot diameter vertical wet well pumping station will be excavated near the existing pumping station. The new wet well replaces a 120-year old structure that was likely dug by hand.

A new 7-foot tall tunnel containing two 20-inch diameter water intake pipelines will extend from the wet well 220 feet under the ground to a point where water can be drawn from the river. Located approximately 75 feet underground, the new tunnel will be 30 feet deeper and extend 80 feet farther into the river than the existing 1960’s vintage structure. The depth and reach of the new tunnel will help to improve water delivery reliability during icy winter conditions and low river levels in the summer.

The project start-up follows a two-year engineering and design process that evaluated multiple alternatives to enhance the reliability and capacity of the systems that deliver water to the water treatment plant. “This option was the most cost-effective choice,” said Jefferson City Operations Superintendent Gilbert Cole.

“This project is replacing water system components that have reached the end of their useful lives,” said Cole. “It is designed to be a critical first step in avoiding the water usage restrictions of 2005 and 2006 and sustain quality, reliable water service for many years. These water infrastructure investments will help maintain public health, safety, and the economic vitality of our community.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the nation’s water utilities will need to make more than $335 billion in infrastructure investments during the next 20 years to ensure public health. These investments include replacing thousands of miles of pipe and upgrades to treatment plants, storage tanks and other assets.

Paul Worsey, Ph.D., co-host of “The Detonators” on the Discovery Channel, brought students from his demolition class at the Missouri University of Science and Technology to create a simulated explosion and pyrotechnic show as part of the project ground breaking.