Inside Beatrice: Water Department

BEATRICE – Everyday residents of Beatrice turn on their faucet and expect water to come out. They shower in it, they cook with it, and they drink it. The water that Beatrice uses comes from two towers on each side of town but how are those towers filled?

Water Superintendent Steve Kelley says the water comes from wells that get filtered into reservoirs where the water is held until it is ready to be pumped into the tower and used.

“Well, We have two well fields. One we call our old well field. One we call our farm well field and those well fields are located about nine miles northwest of town. Basically it’s just ground water, we have no treatment to our system. the water is of good enough quality that we can just serve the water to our customers. The only thing we do is, we chlorinate our water. It’s held at two underground reservoirs at 4th and Grant for contact time and then we re-pump it into the system and we serve our customers.”

Along with monitoring the water pumps there are a lot of other jobs that keep the Water Department busy.

“We are one of the few communities in the state that actually do our own water main replacements. We keep very active doing that usually from about March to about 1st of October. And then the other times we also, somewhat unusual, we do our own back-flow testing, which helps protect our drinking water from chemicals from factories, what have ya. We have about 400 devices we test annually. We also test all of our fire hydrants annually and we try to exercise our water valves annually which is approximately 1,200 of them and there are approximately 700 fire hydrants, so it’snot like we are looking for something to do.”

To get these tasks done Kelley says the employees are an asset to the department.

“One of our best assets for our department, I feel, is our employees. We have ten employees on the part including myself and of those 10, six of them have 25 years of service or more. All of them are certified with Nebraska Health and Human Services and out of the 10 employees nine of them have high enough certification to actually run the department. So my feeling is we have a great bunch of employees and they are dedicated and willing to serve the public.”

Kelley says some of what people think about water is wrong in the Beatrice community.

“I think a lot of times people feel that we are trying to hide things. Basically all my employees but one actually drink the water. We aren’t hiding anything. We serve the water that meets all the standards for EPA and the state regulations and we are here to serve we aren’t here to hide anything.”

Kelley has tried to keep the department close to what it used to be when he took it over and keep the traditions the department has.

“When I took over the department in 1990, our previous boss Mr. Wayne Bittings had one of the better systems in the state and we were actually used as an example. I feel I have continued that tradition and we are still used as a model system for communities our size, how to do maintenance programs and things like that. If you look back through our records you’re going to find very few deficiencies ever found though our system, though our sanitary surveys and if they are they are very minor. The one we just had done last year we had no deficiencies at all, which is very unusual for most communities in the state. I feel we have one of the better departments in the state and hope that continues once I leave here.”BEATRICE – Everyday residents of Beatrice turn on their faucet and expect water to come out. They

When water comes from the faucet, hose, or tap it came from the tower that is filled from the reservoirs that had been naturally filtered in the wells.

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