Wauneta water work to cost over $3 million

Getting the arsenic under control in Wauneta’s water is going to cost a little over $3 million.
    That was the news for the Village Council Tuesday from Sara Pierce, community programs assistant in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.
    While the figure was not a total surprise to trustees—Pierce had discussed it with them informally already—it was the first formal acknowledgement of the total cost.
    Of the total cost, $1.485 million will come in the form of a USDA loan, while $1.159 million will be in a USDA grant. The village will kick in $116,000, which actually has been paid in already.
    The loan portion will have a 40-year term at 2.375 percent interest. The village’s yearly payment on the loan will be $57,930.
    The effect it will have on village water rates remains uncertain.
    Pierce said water rates average $38 a month statewide. Village Clerk Evelyn Skelton said Wauneta’s base rate is $16.20, with more added for monthly amount of water used. Pierce suggested the village contact the state about doing a rate study.
    Pierce acknowledged that while the arsenic problem has been known for years, the process of getting financing for the project has begun to move quickly. She credited the trustees for that.
    “You guys have worked so fast and so diligently to get everything finished on the loan process,” she told trustees.
    That includes securing interim financing for the work until the USDA money actually comes in.
    Trustee Tony Cribelli said he would like to see that interim loan come through Western States Bank in Wauneta, particularly since the bank has done much to support the community.
    Pierce gave trustees a breakdown on the cost. The lion’s share, about $2.3 million, will be for construction.
    The project will involve drilling two new wells that will replace existing ones—a third existing well will remain in use—and running a water line from those wells to the village.
    The rest of the cost is land and rights of way acquisition, permits, fees, inspection, design, loan refinancing, interest on the interim loan and a contingency fund of about 10 percent of construction cost.
    The project also may include repainting of water towers and replacement of water meters, which are nearing the end of their 20-year design life.
    The money from the USDA loan will come into the village first, with the grant kicking in once the loan money is gone.
    With the project imminent, “it’s going to be nice to get this in the past,” Cribelli said.

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