East Cape water district expanding

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The rust-colored water that spouts from Kerry Hill's faucet, staining his new kitchen sink and turning his white shirts orange, may be only a memory in a few months.

Hill's home, along with about 70 other homes in the Gale and Reynoldsville, Ill., areas, will have the option to tap on to the McClure-East Cape Girardeau Public Water District.

Most of the residents who will have the option to convert to city water now use well water, which may have unhealthy iron levels, said Dennis Heck of R.A. Nack and Associates, which is engineering the project.

In addition, some residents have been forced to haul in water because of dried-up wells, said Randy Colyer, head of the water district.

"This is a dependable way to have safe water in your homes," Heck said. The city water will be tested periodically and the new system will be dependable in times of drought when private wells may dry up, he said.

The Gale area's new water will come from an 8-inch water main that will run south about 12 miles from the already existing city mains at the intersection of highways 3 and 146. The new Reynoldsville extension will run from the already existing city mains at Highway 3 by American Legion Post 900 north five miles to Reynoldsville, Heck said.

Began two years ago

Jack Kaufman, a water district board member, began petitioning residents in the targeted areas for the water extension about two years ago.

"We decided to start this project so people can have plenty of safe drinking water," Kaufman said. "This is going to give us good, purified water."

Roberta Stevens, who owns three homes that will have access to the new city water, was sold on the idea from the beginning.

"This is really going eliminate the costs of repairing the wells," Stevens said. "Now, if a water pump burns out, we have to fix it."

Also, well maintenance, such as replacing water softener, will no longer be necessary, Heck said.

"We're pumped about the city water coming to Reynoldsville," said Hill. "Even though we will have a monthly fee, it is a sacrifice we are willing to take."

Some worry about cost

Despite the benefits the new water plan may provide, the thought of paying a monthly fee for water is causing some residents to refrain from converting to the new system.

"I can't afford city water," said Louise Matlock, who admitted she was fortunate to have a good well.

The average family of four can expect to pay between $30 and $45 a month for the use of city water, Colyer said.

The total cost of the project is about $1 million. The project is being funded with a $200,000 loan and a $390,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development division, along with a $400,000 Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant.

The construction of the project is expected to begin this month and should be completed by next February, Heck said.

bchapman@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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