The Lily Lake water treatment plant is set to receive a $1.3 million upgrade after suffering from leaks from corroding pipes in the past few years. The assembly moved to adopt an ordinance on Tuesday that authorizes the borough to enter into a loan agreement with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

The treatment plant was built in 1974 and is past its life expectancy. The upgrade will include replacing the old infrastructure, installing a control system, and a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for the entire water-distribution network.

Lily Lake is 32 acres and has historically been Haines’ primary water source. In the past, it was provided as much as 90% of the borough’s water. However, in recent years, the borough has decreased its dependency on Lily Lake for water and instead is looking to increase production from its Piedad source.

Dennis Durr, the water and sewer plant manager, said that in order for the upgrades to happen, the entire plant needs to be shut down “for weeks or even months.” That’s partially why the borough has been transitioning away from using Lily Lake as the primary source of water in the past years.

“It’s all part of the long-term plan process in the last ten years,” said Durr. The Haines Water Master Plan provides an outline of this long-term plan alongside other proposed improvements.

Despite the failing infrastructure, Durr said the water quality has always been in compliance with DEC standards.

The money for the loan comes from the Alaska Drinking Water Fund, and is a 100% forgivable loan that has a loan term of 20 to 30 years. Durr said the borough still needs to wait for approval to seek a contract, but the bid process should be open to any contractor registered within the state, and the lowest bidder wins.

Durr predicts that the bid process will be open all winter, but hopes that some work will be started this year.

Even though Lily Lake will no longer be the borough’s primary source of water, Durr expects it to make up around 50% of the borough’s source of water. “I don’t see a big change in that,” he said.