New contractor to finish Scott County water project

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A rural Scott County water distribution system will miss its Sept. 13 completion date, but project managers expect work to continue soon under a new contractor.

"It's going to be close, but it's not going to happen," said John Chittenden of Waters Engineering.

Municipal Construction Inc. started laying pipes for the first part of the Scott County Public Water Supply District No. 4's new distribution system last summer, but the Goodrich, Mich., company left the project in December. It was 85 percent complete, Chittenden said. Other contractors have completed the water tower and water treatment plant, he said.

The water district's board of directors voted in May to terminate the contract. The project's bonding company, Western Surety Co., is hiring a new contractor and a decision is expected in the coming week, Chittenden said.

Once a new contractor is on board, the company will inspect the previous work and have a better idea of the delay will be, said system manager Tim McIntyre.

"The only thing that's put us behind is the original contractor leaving us and not finishing it," he said.

The water district was formed by a vote in April 2005. In November that year, voters approved a $25 million bond issue to finance construction of the system.

Chittenden said there will be about 800 customers on the system, including Kelly and Scott County Central school districts. He said the schools will be the top priority once construction resumes and the goal is to have them hooked into the system by September.

"It makes sense," he said. "They're on the backbone of the system."

The Kelly School District, which starts school Aug. 12, has been coping with its own water distribution problems. Its well is on the brink of failure and cannot keep up with usage, said superintendent Don Moore. The school has been drawing its water from supply tanks that are filled by the well overnight.

"We're trying to limp along," Moore said.

Moore said the district has a plan in place if the well fails before the school can hook into the new system. The county will supply tanker trucks with water for general use. The district will provide drinking water.

Last year, the district received a $20,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development for a temporary well. The project never came to fruition because it cost double the amount of the grant, Moore said.

In addition to having a reliable water source, the new system will put the school district "out of the water business," Moore said. The district has managed its water supply itself, which includes monthly testing.

"We would rather experts in the field be the ones that take care of the water," he said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

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20794 U.S. 61, Sikeston, MO

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