The City of Newport (City) in Northeast Washington sits near the Pend Oreille River on the border with Idaho. The City had long shared a water system with Idaho’s West Bonner Water and Sewer District, but differing regulatory requirements between the states created the need for two independently operated water systems. Dividing the system at the border caused the City to lose access to approximately 100,000 gallons of water storage and approximately 350 gallons per minute (gpm) of water source capacity, resulting in a serious deficiency in source and storage for the City of Newport.

The City quickly took decisive steps to address the water supply issue. They identified available water rights in the “Bench” area south of the City. This area was chosen for the site for a future storage tank, and the City drilled preliminary wells. At this point, the City had exercised their available funds and needed to find new funding sources to build the necessary conveyance system and reservoir.

In 2017, the City put out a Request for Proposals to bring an engineering consultant onboard to help obtain funding and support the planning and design of the system that was starting to take shape. Century West Engineering was selected as a result of our experience working with similar sized communities in Eastern Washington. The project immediately received principal-level attention from Matt Morkert, PE, a Vice President based in our Spokane, Washington office.

“Matt is very knowledgeable, helpful, and enjoyable to work with. He has been engaged and interested in our project from the beginning.”
Nickole North
Newport Clerk/Treasurer

With Century West’s support, the City was able to secure $750,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, as well as a low interest $1.43 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture –Rural Development (USDA-RD) program. This funding was intended to cover a 250,000-gallon reservoir, as well as a greensand treatment facility to remove high levels of manganese from the water. As design progressed, however, the project team determined that a larger reservoir was more desirable to ensure adequate capacity into the future. Low levels of Arsenic was also detected in the water which added another component of treatment to the design.

Century West completed project design inclusive of these changes and put the project out to bid. Based on the accepted bid price, the City went back to USDA-RD to ask for additional funding to cover the upgraded 500,000-gallon reservoir and other project features. They were successful in receiving an additional $1.7 million in loan funds, and the project proceeded to construction in 2019.

S&L Underground was chosen as the prime contractor. Century West staff worked with S&L to implement horizontal directional drilling of pipe under the hill on which the new reservoir is located, minimizing impacts to trees. When it became apparent that additional funds would be available at the end of the project, Century West’s electrical engineers helped the City develop and implement a City-wide SCADA system that supports efficient operation of both the new and existing elements of the water utility.

While no project is constructed without challenges, Nickole North says that, “Matt has been very helpful working with the contractor to make sure the project is completed to the City’s standards.”

The completed South Bench Reservoir, Wells, and Transmission Main Project has been providing treated, consistent water service since the system came online in 2020. Good infrastructure tends to be invisible, so Century West is proud to shed a light on some of the important work being done in small communities like Newport. Our municipal practice in Eastern Washington and North Idaho is focused on delivering exactly these types of projects from planning through funding, design, and construction.