Birdseye approves beneficial water project tweak


BIRDSEYE — Birdseye officials hope to have bolstered the benefits of an ongoing, grant-funded water upgrade with a change order approved Thursday.

A $450,000 grant obtained for upgrades last year is giving Birdseye a new connection to the Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District to increase water pressure. The upgrades include putting supervisory control and data acquisition — or SCADA — system controls at Town Hall to remotely monitor tank levels and flows and adding and replacing selected valves and hydrants. New water meters featuring automated meter reading technology are also being installed, with many already in use.

After talking Thursday evening with Utility Superintendent Bob Morrow and Midwestern Engineers’ Tim Nelson, Birdseye Town Council members voted to deduct $30,000 in valves and flush hydrants from the project in order to add a new 6-inch water main estimated to cost $24,250.

The new main will pass a large, town-owned open lot where an old elementary school and gymnasium once stood. The 1.8-acre lot is south of West Third Street, across from Jake’s Auto Parts & Service, and it is a preferred location for a new Birdseye Fire Station.

The Town of Birdseye has applied for a Community Development Block Grant program planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs that could supply up to $20,000 for a feasibility study that would examine fire station sites and provide a preliminary fire station design.

As part of the water upgrade project, a hydrant is planned to serve the area of the projected new fire station. It is an area that also includes the Pleasant View Apartments to the west.

It had been thought a 6-inch main to supply the new hydrant was already in the ground under Third Street. But planners ultimately discovered the existing line was really half that size.

Instead of replacing the existing 3-inch main under Third Street and incurring asphalt-repair costs, Morrow said, it would be better and cheaper to run a new line.

Thanks to Bruce and Debbie Lane transferring some land to the fire department, the new 6-inch main can come west from State Road 145 across the town-owned lot, go north past the site where a new fire station could be built and then west again to the northwest corner of the lot where the new fire hydrant will be installed.

Morrow says the new main and hydrant will enhance fire protection in the area, which should factor well when a team visits Birdseye in the coming weeks to calculate the community’s ISO rating.

ISO is a risk assessment company that audits a community’s ability to respond to and handle fires as part of the public protection classification it issues.

Ratings are on a scale of 1 through 10, with the lower numbers being better. Birdseye’s rating is currently a 7, but the community just missed getting a 6 by a few points, according to Fire Chief David “Smitty” Smith.

Birdseye’s trucks can already roll out of the station hauling 4,000 gallons of tanked water to a fire and the ongoing water upgrades will be a boost when flow capacities are tested.

Morrow noted that valves and flush hydrants removed from the plans to accommodate the expense of the change order for the new main could be reinstated if, at the conclusion of the work, enough grant money remains.

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