Southeast towns want help with water system

Elsmore and Savonburg residents want to use a grant to repair their water system. The water district loses about 1.6 million gallons of water each month because of aging water lines and old, inaccurate meters.

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August 18, 2021 - 9:35 AM

Lon Hale, with the Neosho-Allen Rural Water District No. 2, talks to Allen County Commissioners Tuesday morning. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Emergency grant funding from the federal government may aid Elsmore and Savonburg residents as they look to repair their water system.

Allen County commissioners said Tuesday they likely would support a request by representatives from the Neosho-Allen Rural Water District No. 2 in seeking more than $100,000 for new meters, isolation valves, a fire hydrant and storage facility.

If approved, the funds would come from the $1.2 million the county received in American Rescue Plan Act funding. (Another $1.2 million will come the county’s way in 2022.)

Speaking on behalf of the district, Lon Hale said the water district has averaged about 1.6 million gallons of “lost” water a month; some from leaks within its aging water lines, and the rest from old, inaccurate meters. The system has been in place since 1964.

Hale requested about $78,000 to install digital readers and equipment, which would give a more accurate reading of how much water is consumed and greatly cut down on the time needed to read meters; another $19,800 to install isolation valves throughout the system to help isolate and repair leaks without shutting off service to large swaths of the system; and about $5,000 for a fire hydrant to flush lines and a storage facility for pipe and other materials.

Rural Water District No. 2 encompasses land in and around Elsmore and Savonburg, as well as portions of Neosho and Bourbon counties. 

Hale pegged the district’s total need at $225,000.

“We’re gonna be facing some significant capital investment to keep that system viable,” Hale said.

He also noted the district is seeking nearly $120,000 from Neosho County and $18,000 from Bourbon County.

The requests were based on  the number of water meters each county has within rural water District No. 2, Hale explained. Of the district’s 540 water meters, 229 are in Allen County, Hale noted.

In hoping to spark a spirit of cooperation from their cohorts in the other counties, Allen’s commissioners were receptive to the request, but said they would wait for formal approval.

“This is a cooperative project,” Commissioner Jerry Daniels said. “I’d like to send them with a positive response, to let Bourbon and Neosho County know we are supportive. It’s a viable and important project.”

Getting the other counties on board would be “a good testament to how we work together with other entities,” Daniels said.

THE REQUEST is the 10th to arrive at the courthouse in recent weeks by entities hoping to tap into the funds, made available in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With that in mind, commissioners invited the other applicants to prepare their applications in much the same manner as did Hale. 

Commissioners lauded Hale and others with the pertinent information provided with the application.

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