Tanks a lot! Water providers move to ease effects of drought

Charles Doud/The Madera Tribune Madera Valley Water Company General Manager Gregory Rodgers Kassy D. Chauhan of the California Water Resources Control Board, center; and Lynda Schafhauser, water company president.


Madera Acres, Chowchilla and City of Madera all have improvement projects in the works

A new water tower and at least two new surface water tanks will be built this year in Madera County to improve domestic water services.

Ground will be broken in early April for one of the tanks, a 157-foot-high, 1.5-million-gallon-capacity design, that will serve the 2,052 members of the Madera Valley Water Co., plus Berenda School, north of Madera.

This is in the area commonly called Madera Acres.

Another tank, one that will sit on the ground, will be installed in Chowchilla, and still another ground-level tank will be installed in Madera.

Both the Chowchilla and Madera tanks will be put on the east sides of those cities. But water for the Madera tank will be pumped from a well on the west side of the city, where the drinking water quality is best, city engineer Keith Helmuth told a meeting of the City Council March 7.

All three tanks will be filled at night from existing wells, when electrical rates are lower, then water will be drawn from them when needed, using mostly gravity.

Kassy D. Chauhan, P.E., senior sanitary engineer for the California State Water Resources Control Board, said the state favors such water-storage projects over pressurized water wells. The prevalence of drought conditions makes pressurized water wells an expensive and not always reliable means of providing domestic water, she said.

Building the tower tank, for some $3.9 million, will prove to be a good deal for the Madera Valley Water Company's shareholders, said Gregory Rodgers, general manager. The company will save on power costs — which can be the most expensive input to providing water — and it will save wear and tear on the five wells.

"If a well goes out," he said, "we will still have plenty of water pressure. And if we have to have a new well drilled or an old one deepened, it can take two years to get that done." And he said that could cost more than $1 million.

Lynda Schafhauser, president of the water company and a Madera Acres resident, said the tank would benefit the company's shareholders, financially and in improved service. To be a shareholder in the company, one must be a resident, she said, and the tank will add value to the properties served by the company. Schafhauser spent her career in the water business before moving to Madera Acres a few years ago.

The tank will sit on land east of Road 26 and north of Avenue 17. The property, about an acre, was purchased from purchased from Crossroads Christian School, on the north side of the campus of Grace Community Church.

No well will be on that property. The tower will be connected to the water company's infrastructure through a main.

The Chowchilla tank will help that city prepare for anticipated growth, according to City Administrator Brian Haddix. A 2,000-acre business park is in the design stages, and the city expects to see growth in residential construction.