$500,000 grant approved for water district No. 5 project

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Just one small hurdle remains before Public Water Supply District No. 5 can begin seeking contractors to build its new waterworks.

The final piece of financing for a $2.8 million water system was approved last week, as the Missouri Department of Economic Development awarded a $500,000 grant to the district. The Community Development Block Grant will supplement an $880,000 loan and $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development program.

The grant announcement means eight years of work is on the verge of completion, said Judy Foeste of Foeste Masonry, president of the water district board. She said she was told from the beginning that it would take about 10 years to start the new district.

"I am not surprised it has taken so long, but it is very frustrating," she said.

The last remaining obstacle to advertising the construction work is a permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Foeste said. The district already has four of the environmental permits required, she said, and expects the last one in the near future.

The district, north of Cape Girardeau near Egypt Mills and Nell Holcomb School District, will begin by digging a well and building treatment and storage facilities and 31.5 miles of water mains to supply the school and about 200 residential and small business customers.

Since the district applied for the block grant, Foeste said about 15 more residential customers have signed on to become water district customers despite a meter installation charge that could go as high as $1,400. Customers who signed on during an early sign-up period paid a flat charge of $350.

If all goes as planned, Foeste said the water district will advertise for contractors by mid-May. After 60 days, the district will award five contracts -- one each for the well, treatment facility and storage tower and two for installing the water mains.

The installation of water mains will be two contracts to allow smaller companies that may not have the resources to qualify for a large contract to have a shot at competing for the jobs, she said.

The first water will flow by the end of the year, Foeste said, and the full 31.5 miles of water mains should be installed within a year of awarding the contracts.

Residents who rely on home wells within the water district must install cleansing systems that remove the heavy concentrations of sulfates and iron. The new district well, which will be about a half-mile west of Nell Holcomb School, is a shallow well with much lower concentrations of impurities, according to the district's engineering firm, Koehler Engineering.

The Nell Holcomb School, which serves 340 students from kindergarten through eigth grade, expects to save money by eliminating costs for maintaining water softeners and monthly testing.

The new treatment plant will be just north of the school.

"The school will probably be the first customer because of the locality, and that is going to be a good thing," Foeste said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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