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Rural water district wraps up first phase

Friday, March 11, 2005

CHARLESTON - Mississippi County's rural water district is wrapping up its first phase and ready to begin a second.

Bill Green of William Green and Associates, the engineering firm for the county's rural water district project, updated county commissioners on the district's status during the commission's regular meeting Thursday.

"We're getting close to the end of this phase," Green said.

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development officials originally wanted 675 committed users for the first phase, Green recalled. "As of today, the water district has 710 users," he reported. The district has laid 200 miles of lines during its first phase. "We should set the last meter today," Green said.

The average monthly bill in the water district about $30, according to Green.

Green said a contingency fund of $130,000 was required for the $5.6 million project but the money was not needed. "I think my people did a good job of laying it out," he said. Green also said the district has a good manager.

As of Thursday, 40 people have signed up for the water district's second phase. "Now they can sign up for $180," Green said. He said the hook up fee includes setting the meter. After the second phase is complete, the cost will go up to $500-$600 to hook up and get a meter set, Green estimated.

Green said there is a total of 1,499 houses in the county's rural areas as of the last count.

Commissioners and Green also discussed ways to provide water service for residents who live just over the county line in Scott and New Madrid counties.

Green said Scott County has started the process to establish a countywide rural water district for all residents not currently served in that county. "I don't know where it stands yet," Green said.

One option to service a cluster of homes in Scott County near the county line may be for Scott County's rural water district to purchase water from Mississippi County's district which is already prepared for such an arrangement, Green said. This way the Scott County water district would only have to run a half mile of line instead of five miles.

In the event a water district is not formed in Scott County, Green advised commissioners the Mississippi County rural water district is dedicated to serving everybody who has requested water within Mississippi County before crossing into another county.

Presiding Commissioners Jim Blumenberg said he hasn't heard any complaints about the water although he has fielded calls about damage to driveways and yards from the installation of water lines. He said he will refer all future complaints to Green or water district officials. "We have nothing to do with it," Blumenberg said.

Green said there are a few driveways that need chat and a few lines that need dirt over them. He advised the district is working on it and, weather permitting, it should all be cleaned up by the end of the month.

Blumenberg said residents were promised things would be returned "back to ordinary as close as possible."

"I don't know of an address where there is an outstanding complaint," Green said. He said when he receives complaints he inspects the site and reports it to the district.

"We think you did a good job," Commissioner Homer Oliver said of the rural water district's first phase. He said there are places where a person would have to look hard to find where a water line was placed.

Commissioners and Green also discussed problems with water line markers being damaged by tractors, discs and mowers.

"There isn't any perfect solution," Green said, recalling how he has tried several types of markers and flush hydrants.

In other business during Thursday's meeting:

* County officials will fax a letter to the SEMO Skydivers Club directing them to cease all activities until insurance is back in place.

"I don't think they ought to be jumping," Commissioner Martin Lucas said.

* Commissioners will send a letter of support for Charleston's U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant application for four police vehicles.

* Commissioners approved a contract to convert E-911 data to the county's geographic information system. The cost, including training, is $18,750.

"We've been working with Midland GIS on converting 911 files to GIS," said Junior DeLay, county clerk. He said the project will be completed within four months of signing the agreement.

"This will come out of the 911 funds," DeLay said. A new computer for the 911 system will come from Homeland Security funds, he added.

While the cost is above the limit to award without a bidding process, DeLay said it is an extension of the county's mapping project and Midland is the sole provider so there is no need to bid.

* With high fuel prices, the road graders will need to run less often, commissioners agreed.

"There's going to be some rough roads," Blumenberg said.