Fiber optics will help keep Little Falls utility systems connected

7 Jul 2023

Government, News, Infrastructure, Economic Development, Community

The answer to a potential major issue with the city of Little Falls’ utility delivery system was to build out more fiber optic lines.

Monday, the Little Falls City Council unanimously approved a request from City Engineer Greg Kimman to partner with Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) to maintain infrastructure components within its water and wastewater systems. The project will cost the city $731,000 — $395,000 of which will come from its American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the federal government. An additional $206,000 will be paid for out of the wastewater improvement fund, with $130,000 coming from the water improvement fund.

The project should also make fiber internet service accessible to more residents and businesses throughout the community.

“They’re putting in a lot of investment to this,” said City Administrator Jon Radermacher, referring to CTC. “We are not funding 100% of this project by any means. We’re funding less than 50% of the total construction that’s going on. CTC’s making an investment into our community to do this work on the hopes that they’re going to gain customers.”

Kimman said the project became necessary, in part, because of the “extensive infrastructure system,” that makes up the city’s water and wastewater systems. In all, there are 19 lift stations, two water towers, along with pressure relief valves and booster stations for both sides.

Some of that infrastructure is quite far from the main plants themselves. As such, the city started brainstorming about two years ago, according to Kimman, on ways to ensure there is connectivity to those further out pieces of equipment.

Currently, the city uses a system that works, essentially, on radio waves. To reach four of the lift stations in the Riverwood area in northern Little Falls, specifically, the waves bounce off of a repeater housed at the ethanol plant.

As operations ceased at the plant, the city had to come up with another way to ensure connectivity in the event power is turned off at the ethanol plant. So far, that has not happened.

“We reached out to CTC to see what options they would have available,” Kimman said. “They would be proposing to install fiber optics on a number of locations. They’d be looking at installing fiber optics to 12 of our facilities. Not all of them to lift stations, but to 12 of the facilities.”

Those would include the two water towers, booster stations and pressure relief valves, along with several lift stations — three in the Riverwood area and another on the north side of U.S. Highway 10.

The project would allow the city to keep all of those components connected without having to rely on the radio waves, or the ethanol plant.

Read the full article here.