Officials get update on new water district

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

BENTON -- Today and tomorrow are the last days to sign up for the first phase of Scott County's newest water district.

Scott County commissioners met with board members for the Public Water Supply District No. 4 of Scott County for an update on the water district's status during their regular meeting Tuesday.

"About a year ago we thought we were at the point where we were ready to go," said Phil Lyon, treasurer and clerk of the water district's board. At that time, water district officials were working on a plan to purchase water from the city of Sikeston for the water district as a quicker way to establish the district.

Due to concerns about meeting the city's water demands, city officials were unable to commit to a contract longer than five years which was not long enough to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development requirements for grant funding.

In January, water district board members decided to build their own water treatment plant.

"We've reworked our plans, reworked our maps for Phase 1," Lyon said. "Phase 1 was initially going to be larger."

Lyon described for commissioners the new boundaries for Phase 1.

"We have a lot of clients signed up in Diehlstadt," he said. "We have large concentrations there and large concentrations just east of Miner."

Aug. 1 is the cutoff date for $150 signups which will bring water lines all the way up to the house, according to Lyon. He explained the cutoff is needed so the engineer can finalize maps and seek requests for proposals to build the system.

Lyon said there are areas within the boundaries where no users signed up so pipe will not be laid, however. Residents in these areas may have to wait until Phase 2 or Phase 3 to be included.

District officials made significant efforts to contact all potential users within the district, according to Lyon, but had problems contacting some people who had post office boxes instead of mailboxes or moved to the district after contacts were made.

"So there's going to be people who feel they haven't been contacted," he said.

The first phase will initially serve around 720-730 customers with an expansion capability to just over 1,000.

"We're laying about 117 miles of pipe, which is a lot of pipe," Lyon said.

The cost for Phase 1 is projected to be about $9.15 million which is somewhat higher than cost projections three to four years ago, according to Lyon.

Approximately 35 to 40 percent of the cost will be covered with grants. The remaining cost will be met with a revenue bond that will be satisfied by usage fees.

The estimated user cost is projected at $30 for the first 1,000 gallons per month and $6.74 per each 1,000 gallons thereafter, or about $50.22 for an average of 4,000 gallons of water per month.

"We're currently in negotiations for a plant site," Lyon said. He said the water district will release a news announcement when the agreement for the plant site is finalized.

Assuming site negotiations are finalized this summer, board officials anticipate receiving approval for additional funding needed for the plant later in the summer and requesting proposals on the construction of the treatment plant and water system in the fall or early winter.

Construction would then begin in the winter so the contractor could "get some of that pipe laid while farmers have no crops in," Lyon said. Service would begin in late 2009.

Martin Priggel, water district board member, said as the district's well will be 150 feet deep, the water will be "a lot better for the health of the people."

Priggel said when people see crews laying the water district's pipe they will want to be hooked up but by that time it will be too late.

"I hope people do not pass on this opportunity to initially get in," Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said. "People need to take this initial sign up. If not, they are missing the boat."

Burger said being hooked up to the public water supply is something residents' children and grandchildren will appreciate.

Those who are interested in signing up for Phase 1 may leave a voice mail message by calling the water district at 573-472-1728; contact Lyon at 380-3403; or contact Waters Engineering at 471-5680.

Solicitation for Phase 2 will begin once construction starts on Phase 1, according to Lyon.

In other county business:

* The county is selling three old patrol cars and a box truck, according to Burger. All four vehicles can be seen parked on the road in front of the jail, he said.

Officials will open and consider bids on the vehicles at 10 a.m. Thursday.

* Joel Evans, county developer, presented preliminary figures for replacing the courthouse's windows.

* A representative from Enterprise Rent-A-Car presented commissioners with information about renting cars through a state bid package.

If used by county officials and employees to travel to training seminars, rented cars through this program may save the county $50 to $100 as compared with what is paid out for mileage reimbursement, officials figured.

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