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Mississippi County officials consider expansion of the rural water district

Friday, February 25, 2005

CHARLESTON - Mississippi County's rural water district is gearing up for Phase 2.

Liz Long from the Green and Associates engineering firm met with county commissioners during their regular meeting Thursday to update them on the water district.

Also, a meeting for the rural water district was held Thursday evening at the water district's office in Anniston to discuss a second phase for the district.

Long said if the water district gets at least 100 people, it can do a second phase.

"We've got lines out there and several people signed up," Long said.

County residents and officials first began discussing a rural water district in Mississippi County in 1997, Long recalled.

For the county's first phase, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development officials wanted 674 users signed up. "We have about 700 people signed up as users," Long said.

Commissioner Homer Oliver asked if homes near the northwest corner of Mississippi County in Scott County around the Lusk Chapel area could possibly be included in Phase 2.

Long said she will contact John Chittenden of Waters Engineering in Sikeston, the engineer for the proposed rural district in Scott County, to discuss what the Scott County district's plans for that area are.

The areas to be included in the Phase 2 expansion in Mississippi County are yet to be determined. "It depends on who signs up," Long said, in addition to cost feasibility and available funding.

The district is looking into a Community Development Block Grant but grant money is harder to get, according to Long. "The requirements are tightening up."

There is currently a waiting list to hook up to the county's rural water district, Long said. The $550 cost does not include the service line.

When the rural district was forming, hookup fees were $125 and included a service line, according to Long. The price eventually went up to $180 just before construction started and did not include running the service line.

Long said they haven't decided on terms for Phase 2. As people sign user agreements, the district will be able to see where the potential users are.

"We need to see where the lines need to go," Long said.

Commissioner Martin Lucas asked Long about setting up rural sewer districts.

She said the process for setting up rural sewer districts is "similar to the process you go through for a water district." Sewers districts are formed both as a part of a water-sewer district project and separately, Long said.

Long said the cost to establish a rural sewer district is about the same as setting up a water district. The goal when designing either a water or sewer system is to have the cost for users work out to about 2 percent of the area's median income, she said.

Overall the cost for putting in water and sewer systems has increased as regulations are more stringent than 20 years ago, Long said, "and it's harder to get the grant dollars."

Lucas said sewer districts, like water districts, can hook up to adjacent systems and reduce their construction costs by not having to build a lagoon and treatment facility of their own.

"Certainly that's a way you can do it," Long confirmed. She said that doing so usually drops the monthly bill for users by about $6.

"I think that's a real positive thing that the water district is looking at a Phase 2," Lucas said.

"It will take a little bit of time but we'll try to move it forward as quickly as possible," Long said. "We'll keep you informed as things go."