City mulls water pipe project

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cassville seeking grant for $4.8 million project

The city of Cassville is mulling a water line project that would replace half of the city's 43 miles of water pipes, with the goal of eliminating water losses the city has experienced.

Steve Walensky, public works director for the city of Cassville, said some of the city's piping is more than 80 years old, which is well past its intended life span and is causing the city to hover around 30 percent water loss.

"You have a high water loss threshold to overcome," said Ronnie Marshall of Schultz Surveying and Engineering in Branson. "We're looking for a replacement of water line and a looping of lines to improve water flow, and that means replacing about 107,000 feet, or 20 miles, of lines."

The city paid Schultz $2,000 for a study of its lines, and are now in the process of seeking state and federal grants in hopes of undertaking the project in the next two years. The construction cost of such a project, which includes things like water replacements and well-house renovations, is estimated at $3,818,900. However, after adding in 10 percent for contingency costs, along with items such as legal fees, bond counseling and easement funds, a total estimated cost of the project is about $4,894,045.

The need for the project arose after the Department of Natural Resources told the city it had to curb its 30 percent water loss. With the age of the city's pipes, many of which are copper pipes with lead joints, deterioration has taken its toll, and many pipes would have to be replaced or bypassed to avoid such water losses.

When applying for grants to assist in the project cost, some of the factors involved include the area's median income and the city's water rate. For 5,000 gallons of water per month, the city charges 29.46, and 85 percent of the city's customers use 5,000 gallons or more. DNR however, says to be in the best position to qualify for grants, that rate should be more near $45.60 for 5,000 gallons.

Mayor Bill Shiveley said the city will likely have to raise rates at some point, as it is not likely to cover the project 100 percent with grant money.

Grants are available through the DNR and through federal programs, such as through USDA Rural Development.

Marshall said the sooner the city begins applying for such grants, the sooner it will know the financials of such a project.

To date, the city has only spent the $2,000 for the water study, and officials have given Marshall a green light to begin applying for grants to fund the project, which would likely not begin any time soon. If it goes forward, the next step for the city would be to get an environmental study done, which would require a specialist and about $5,000.

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