"We have the construction costs," John Chittenden of Waters Engineering in Sikeston said during his report at Tuesday's regular Scott County Commission meeting.
The proposed project would make water available along "every road that has a house on it," Chittenden said. "The budget is based on serving every customer."
Before projecting a monthly cost per customer, however, Chittenden said he needs two more numbers.
One is how much assistance they can get from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant. "In the past we've been getting 40 percent," Chittenden said. Recent drops in grant funding, however, may drive the monthly water bill for customers a bit higher than in other area water districts.
He suggested a face-to-face meeting with Rural Development officials which commissioners will try to schedule Aug. 10 or 12.
The second key figure Chittenden needs is the number of customers that will initially sign up for service. "The more people that sign up, the lower the rates will be," Chittenden said.
"We want to get as many as we can," said Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel. He predicted that within 10 years, 95 percent of those in the district's area will be on the system anyway.
In addition to lowering monthly rates for all customers in the district, customers benefit themselves by signing up early, officials noted. The cost to put in a meter and connect the system to the house, which are both free with initial sign up of fee $100-$150, is usually around $1,000 once a water district is up and running.
A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 24 at the courthouse for those with "questions, comments or interest," Commissioner Jamie Burger said.
The meeting will be followed by an informational mailer to potential customers. Commissioner Walter Bizzell suggested sending home the information with school children.
The proposal calls for a treatment plant to be located between Haywood City and Blodgett. A pump southwest of Benton would supply standpipe water towers at New Hamburg and southwest of Commerce to service the northern half of the county.
The proposal would include an arrangement for Morley and Vanduser to buy their water from the district, if they are willing, as their water treatment plants will soon need replacement or upgrades. "It is very cost-effective for them versus upgrading their plants," Chittenden said.
Those living in Commerce and Diehlstadt would become new customers just like those in rural areas of the county, Chittenden said.
The proposal also calls for emergency interconnections with all adjacent existing water systems.
Commissioners agreed that not only would having the water district in place encourages economic development in the county, but also the construction itself would be a big economic boost.
They noted health issues related to septic systems and wells which would be resolved by a rural water district.
County Economic Developer Jim Schwaninger said previous effectiveness surveys by state and county health departments have found more than half of septic systems are failing with contamination of wells being prevalent.
Considering many pay $40-$50 per month for mobile phones, Chittenden said a monthly bill of about that much is easily worth having clean, healthy water.
In northern Missouri, water districts have to truck water in and customers pay bills as high as $80-$90 per month, he said. "People there recognize the value of water," Chittenden said.
He predicted the proposed water district's construction may be broken into phases.