Rural water district may pump water this year

Friday, May 4, 2007

Dennis Meier of Kelso admits he and other residents of rural northern Scott County are anxious to hook onto a public water supply. Once work begins on phase one of construction in the Public Water Supply District No. 4 project, Meier hopes the visual evidence of progress will reinforce the message to the county's rural northern residents that their patience will pay off.

"Is it ever going to happen? Well yeah, eventually," said Meier, who sits on the district's board of directors, representing the northernmost sections of the county.

The water district was formed in April 2005 by a majority vote of rural county residents not currently served by the water supply. In November 2005, a majority of those voters gave the district the green light to secure up to $25 million in financing for the project through a bond issue.

The first major part of that financing came last week in a $5.1 million grant/loan package (75 percent loan, 25 percent grant) from USDA Rural Development. With the money the district can start acquiring easements for water lines and begin construction. About 600 households have signed up for the first phase so far, which will cover roughly the southern third of the county.

Work started in the south first because higher numbers of users signed on in denser geographical concentrations.

Water district board president Phil Lyon of Sikeston said construction will likely start late this year or early next year, with service coming online in increments. The district will initially purchase its water from Sikeston's municipal utilities, Lyon said, though an agreement is still being worked out.

Wayne McSpadden, Sikeston utilities operations manager, said Sikeston will supply the district with about 200,000 gallons of water per day from its plant, which has a capacity of 7 million gallons per day.

After the first phase is completed, the district will turn its attention to the rest of the county, signing up users, securing funding and drawing up plans for the next phase.

335-6611, extension 182

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