Scott County water

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A reliable source of clean, safe water is essential for homes and businesses. In Scott County, there are ambitious plans to form a countywide water district that would provide clean, safe water to the 4,000 homes and businesses that currently rely on well water that may be contaminated or unsafe.

The proposed $19 million project would rely on water customers to pay for the system, including water lines and treatment facility. The more customers there are, the less the cost would be to each customer. But officials outlining the project at a recent public meeting at the Scott County Courthouse in Benton, Mo., were assured no one would be forced to hook up to the rural water district's lines, nor would any taxes be imposed to pay for the system.

Of the 50 or so interested residents at the meeting, no one expressed any opposition to the idea of pursuing a water district.

County officials say having a reliable water system throughout the county would encourage economic development through the construction of homes and the location of businesses.

There are many hurdles to overcome before a rural water system can be built. The main one is financing. A portion of the funding could come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the rest would be a loan to be paid off with revenue bonds.

Another hurdle is getting information to county residents who might want to be a part of the rural water district. The informational meeting was a first step to do that. Another meeting is planned for October. If enough county residents indicate their support for the plan, the next step would be to file a petition asking for a countywide vote, possibly next spring.

County residents who currently use water from their own wells will want to be as informed as possible about the plans for a rural water district. Attending the next meeting or contacting the Scott County Commission for more information would be good places to start.

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