Lodgepole, Chappell make plans for joint water project

 


LODGEPOLE – The communities of Lodgepole and Chappell are collaborating on a proposed water project to drill a shared well field.

Every public drinking water system is required to have its water tested, and a level of arsenic slightly over what the state allows has been found in Lodgepole’s, village clerk Tammy Sherman said.

Chappell, 10 miles southeast, is facing a similar issue, she added.

Working with the state, a regional water study – which encompassed just the two communities – was recently completed.

From the report, the idea of a collaboration was sparked.

“We both have the same problem, so we’re working together to find a solution,” Sherman said.

Funds for the proposed project could come from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan and grant program.

On Monday night, Natalie Furrow, a USDA community programs specialist, visited the Lodgepole Village Council meeting.

After noting interest rates could be adjusted in the time between the completion of a required environmental assessment and the submission of an application for funding, she presented preliminary numbers for the proposed project. She cautioned, however, that the numbers may change.


Following an examination of water usage in the two communities, she said, the project would be split 25-75 percent, with Lodgepole covering the lesser of the costs.

“Once we looked at some numbers, Chappell is going to be using more water,” she explained.

With current estimates, Lodgepole would be responsible for $1.7 million of the project’s costs.

Through the USDA program, $1.3 million of Lodgepole’s portion could be allocated through a 40-year loan with a current interest rate of 2 percent – which could change on Jan. 1, 2016, Furrow said. The remaining $400,000 would come in the form of a grant.

With 205 water customers in Lodgepole, the project would require water rates to rise from the current $18 a month to $36 per month, Furrow said. However, the actual number of customers could be a handful less, which would lead to an increased grant amount and decreased loan amount, she said.

Following Furrow’s presentation, Lodgepole councilors unanimously voted to authorize Sherman and council chairman Alan Runge to sign loan and grant documents with the USDA for the project.

“It just gives Tammy and I authorization to sign once we know what we’re going to do,” Runge said.

The council also discussed an interlocal agreement with Chappell to establish the Creek Valley Water Authority.

Village Attorney J. Leef said Chappell City Councilors were scheduled to review and vote on the agreement at their council meeting that was also scheduled for Monday night. Lodgepole councilors would then vote on it at their December meeting, she explained.


On Tuesday morning, Ashlea Jepsen, Chappell city administrator and clerk, said city councilors had approved the agreement that creates a board with joint representation to make decisions on the water project.

The next Lodgepole Village Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7, at the Lodgepole Village Office.

 

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