Tribune-Courier News Editor
DRAFFENVILLE — The North Marshall Water District’s latest project will put an end to leaks in a problem area and increase pressure and storage.
Bobby Gifford, the District superintendent, said the $3.375 million plan calls for adding a 250,000 tank in Sharpe. Sharpe faced high water demand during the summer’s drought and the existing tank did not have enough storage to meet the demand. This led to a drop in water pressure during peak hours after the work day.
The second part of the project is a line replacement in the Moor’s Camp area. Gifford said existing lines are old and brittle. The lines are not marked and the District is unsure if they were ever rated to carry potable water. The District has sent a sample of the pipe to an independent laboratory for analysis.
Right now, 30 percent of the District’s maintenance budget goes to repairing leaks in the one section with the unknown PVC pipe. The pipe has deteriorated to the point of shattering if a dirt clod is dropped on it.
“Last week, we responded to 20 leaks,” Gifford said. “Fifteen of the leaks were in the area that will be replaced. In the future, we will be able to concentrate on other areas”
Gifford said the $3.375 million will come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. He is hopeful 30 percent of the funding will come from grants, with the remainder as a loan.
In addition, the District was able to refinance a loan for electronic water meters. This savings means the new project will only cost an additional $24,000 in debt service annually. Gifford said this is within the District’s budget and will not create a need for a rate hike.
Gifford said he anticipates few traffic problems during construction. He added he foresees some problems with driveways, but plans to bore under paved ramps.
“We may have a few service interruptions, but that should be minimal,” Gifford said. “Any time you are digging with water or gas lines, you run the risk of hitting something with a back hoe.”
Once funding is approved, engineering work will proceed. Gifford said construction could take six months.
While the Federal budget remains in limbo, Gifford anticipated few delays with the grant and loan. He said Rural Development receives an annual allotment and did not foresee that being removed.
During the hearing, only resident Bob Helton attended and spoke out in favor of the project.
“On the surface, this makes a lot of sense,” Helton said. “It doesn’t take a lot of engineering to figure out this is needed.”