In a special meeting of the Purdy City Council Monday night, aldermen opted not to put before voters a question of funding water and wastewater improvements in the upcoming November election.
Voters had previously voted down a similar proposal, and aldermen were seriously considering giving the question another go with city residents.
According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the City of Purdy is in violation of wastewater land application requirements based on reports coming from the #1 well, which consistently registers high nitrate counts. All of the other three test wells spread across the 55-acre plot register within acceptable ranges.
Aldermen believe the high readings from the #1 well are an anomaly and that high nitrate counts are due to a nearby poultry operation. They are now forced by DNR regulations to prove that the city's lagoon system is not at fault.
"We have to prove it's not coming from us," said Mayor Ron Dutra. "To do that, we have to spend $30,000 for four more test wells and three months of monitoring."
Dutra went on to say that the implementation of the four new monitoring wells and subsequent testing were a two-edged sword.
"Then we'll know that it's not [the city]," he said. "But if it turns out that it is, there is no backing up."
"We need to get the information that from the monitoring wells," said Alderman Wayne Rupp. "I'm not comfortable putting this on the ballot until we have a plan."
In the meantime, DNR officials seem satisfied that the city is beginning the monitoring well phase of the operation. Aldermen now shift their focus to the continuing inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems that have long plagued the city's system.
"We should have the report on the wastewater system from Ace Pipe Cleaning by the next meeting," Dutra said. "We can start getting the worst spots repaired and go from there. But that's $27,000 just to get an idea of where to start."
Aldermen have been juggling a variety of funding methods for these services in a tight fiscal year without having to go to the voters. The city is seeking a $1.7 million loan from USDA's Rural Development program.
"The USDA grant is still available," Dutra said. "That money is committed to us, regardless if a bond issue passes."
Those funds will provide aldermen with a way of determining where the problems lie and how best to go about fixing them.
"This is not an overnight thing. We've been working on it for three years," said Alderman Wayne Rupp. "We're just staying ahead of being fined [by DNR]."
"And when DNR comes in, it's their way or the highway," added Alderman Ken Real.
Aldermen voted unanimously to table placing the ordinance on the November ballot until further information can be obtained and a plan of action to address the issues put into place.
The next meeting of the Purdy Board of Aldermen will be a special tax levy hearing, set for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at City Hall.