Modernization Boosts Service and Efficiency in Gooding City, Idaho

Modern water meters, GIS system mapping, and improved water pressure monitoring led the way to award-winning performance for Idaho’s Gooding City Water Works

Modernization Boosts Service and Efficiency in Gooding City, Idaho

The team at Gooding City Water Works includes, from left, Paul Childs, water/wastewater operator; Noel Edwards, water/wastewater superintendent; and Pam Childs, Jase Stockham, Glen Neal, and Joel Eilers, water/wastewater operators.

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Quality service. Reliable supply. Low rates for customers.

Those are the objectives that drive Noel Edwards and the team at the Gooding City Water Works in Idaho. Substantial system improvements have been key to achieving those aims. They include adding advanced water meters with remote usage reporting capabilities, mapping the water infrastructure electronically, and using technology to detect and respond quickly to drops in water pressure.

Those enhancements, and others, helped the Gooding City utility earn the 2022 Drinking Water System of the Year from Idaho Rural Water Association. Deserving to win isn’t the same as expecting to win: News of the award win came as a surprise to the utility team.

“This was a complete shock for all of us, especially there at the awards banquet,” says Noel Edwards, water and wastewater superintendent. “We weren’t expecting to win. I mean, there are a lot of good communities in our area, so we feel blessed.”

Quality source

Gooding is the county seat in a county of the same name. The water works serves about 3,700 people in an area covering 2.5 square miles. The distribution network consists of about 28 miles of pipe. “We produce from 200,000 gallons to 2.4 mgd, depending on the demand,” says Edwards.

The water source is groundwater, extracted from using three 200 hp pumps, and one 100 hp pump, 7322 BCBM models, from Nidec Motor Corporation. This water is discharged directly from the source to the pump and then into the mains with a direct-injection chlorine feed. The city has a 1 million-gallon reserve tank as a backup supply.

“We’re extremely fortunate,” says Edwards. “Our water source is really clean. We’ve been really blessed with not having to do much treatment for the community to provide quality drinking water.”

Notable improvements

The City of Gooding was established in 1907, and the water distribution system came online in 1920. “It’s over a hundred years old,” Edwards says. “Over that time, the city has made all kinds of improvements to the system.” The latest improvements are designed to keep costs down while maintaining water quality and availability. “These changes are going to save consumers money while ensuring service,” says Edwards.

The IRWA cited installation of Sensus Meter Transceiver Units (MXUs) at customer locations as the utility’s standout accomplishment in 2022. “They acquired and installed approximately 1,200 MXUs,” says the award citation. “These meters transmit a remote signal reporting water usage, which shortens the meter reading time by a day and a half each month and has saved the community over $300,000.”

“Reading signals remotely replaced taking three to four days to read meters manually,” says Edwards. “Now we do a drive-by and read them all in less than one working day.”

Next, the city took the guesswork out of locating water system assets by electronically mapping their positions using GIS. Edwards observes, “The GIS we developed with IRWA works on [the IRWA’s] SCADA system, which constantly monitors our remote sites. 

“Using the GIS, our crews can go out in the field with tablets or cellphones and see the locations of sewers, manholes, waterlines, water valves and fire hydrants. In fact, we’re able to see everything in the field day or night. That really helps with response times and emergency calls.”

In the same vein, the SCADA system keeps a constant eye on pressure and water flows throughout the distribution network. Detecting pressure drops as they occur speeds up response time and troubleshooting.

Meanwhile, to ensure water delivery even when utility power fails, this utility has installed two Kohler Power Systems 250REZXB 260 kW backup power generators. “If a bad situation happens and the community loses power, we don’t have to worry about running out of water,” says Edwards.

An able team

To keep water flowing, Edwards works closely with a team of five operators responsible for the city’s drinking water, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment systems. Edwards, has a Water Distribution 2 license and a Collection 1 license.

Paul Childs and Glenn Neal wastewater treatment operators, have those same qualifications. Pam Childs, water and wastewater operator, has a Collection 1 certification and is scheduled to receive her Distribution 1 license. Jase Stockham and Joel Eilers, water and wastewater operators, are working on their certifications. Hayden Peterson is the deputy city clerk who does the billing end of the water system in city hall.

“We try to be a team — not just coworkers, but an actual team,” Edwards says. “We spend a lot of time together. We depend on each other. With these people, when one struggles, the rest will pick up and help them through.”

Maintaining balance

Having access to a reliable and clean water source, plus up-to-date and well-maintained infrastructure and equipment, means the Gooding’s water works avoids getting stuck in crisis mode. But success doesn’t come without challenges.

“Our biggest challenges include just keeping up with the maintenance and demand while keeping the price low,” says Edwards. “We don’t want to raise rates. We just want to keep delivering quality drinking water in an adequate supply without affecting the community. And so every upgrade we do, we have to justify that it’s cost effective while providing benefits to the community.”

A case in point: “Our main booster pumping station that supplies our million-gallon tank is getting 30 to 40 years old.”  Edwards says the team plans to add two smaller booster pumps, likely running at 25 and 50 hp, to support the existing 3,000 gpm booster pump. “They … will help us lower our power consumption and cut our energy costs.”

As for keeping up with future demand, the Gooding City Water Works has plenty of room to grow. “We added two new well sites three years ago. With those online we’re capable of providing 11.5 mgd for a community of 3,700 people. So we’re doing well on upgrading the system for future growth with those two new wells we’ve put in. We’re serious about continuing to provide Gooding with clean, reliable drinking water at an affordable cost.”


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