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Rauch describes ongoing water projects, future plans to Monett Kiwanis members

Friday, March 9, 2012

Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch showed photos and graphs to the Monett Kiwanis Club to illustrate the city's planned water system upgrade. He pointed to a graph from the monitor well at the Monett Municipal Golf Court that shows the water table is currently higher than it was when the well was drilled in 1966, despite the city pumping 1 billion gallons a year out of the ground for customer use. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch updated the Monett Kiwanis Club on improvements and plans for water projects in Monett.

Rauch said work to lay the loop of 12- and 16-inch water mains in a loop around the city is nearly complete. A private contractor is laying mains from Farm Road 1090 to Highway 37. City crews are completing the loop on Chapell Drive that links the standpipe behind Lowe's to the line that runs across the north of the city to Eisenhower Street.

The $2.8 million in bonds acquired through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are paying for the water system upgrade. The bonds are subsidized up to 45 percent with federal money, so the city is paying 3.57 percent interest.

Rauch described how the loop of mains will equalize pressure between the north and west ends of town with the higher pressure at the southeast corner. Water pumped at the north half of town will be able to fill standpipes in the Industrial Park, which have emptied faster due to greater industrial demand.

The water treatment plant, which will be built on the 32-acre lot purchased from Harry Rutherford in 1993, will remedy three city wells getting muddy, or what the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) calls being "under the influence of surface water." Polymers will be added to the water to catch the dirt particles. The water will be run through sand filters to clear the impurities, then chlorinated.

Plans for the plant should be finished in the next 30 days then go to DNR for the needed permits. Rauch expects to the project will go out for construction bids in August and be ready for a groundbreaking in September. The plant should open in March of 2014.

At the present time, Rauch said the city has 13 operational wells out of the 21 that have been drilled. Once the new treatment plant makes the system more consistent and reliable, more of the low producing wells will be taken off-line and plugged.

In 2011, city wells pumped over 1 billion gallons of water that were sold to customers for $2.8 million. The city sells 70 percent of its water supply for industrial and commercial use, which is highly unusual for any city.

Even with such high production, Rauch said city supplies have recharged with regular rains. A well at the golf course drilled in 1966, now used for monitoring subterranean water levels, shows the water table today is higher than when the well was drilled.

Around $500,000 will be left from the ARRA bonds after the loop is finished. Rauch hopes to use that money to begin building a main to the Monett Municipal Airport. Water pumped from the airport well or in the city could supply businesses in the Monett Industrial Development Corporation's new industrial park, east of the airport.

Kiwanians wanted to know about what will happen to the water tower at South Park by the City Park Casino. Rauch said the 400,000-gallon tower, dating from the 1930s, would cost around $150,000 to paint on the inside and outside. The tower is no longer worth the maintenance expense and will be sold for scrap.

The old reservoir, located between Seventh and Eighth streets, north of County Street, still holds 875,000 gallons pumped from a well drilled in 1912. With the treatment plant working, Rauch said the reservoir could be retired as well.

"This [treatment plant] will give us a bridge to [treating] surface water," Rauch said. "We won't have to worry about running short."

Rauch expected the treatment plant to process 4 million gallons of water a day. The addition should enable the city's supply from deep water wells to last another 25 to 30 years before another source is needed to supplement demand.

Technology exists to treat and reuse water for drinking purposes. Rauch said the real variable locally is price. In western states, water is so expensive that an entirely different approach would be considered.

The Tri-State Water Coalition, in which the city of Monett participates, is seeking to secure an impounded source of water for future demand. Rauch said he expects Springfield or Joplin will drive the effort to form a joint municipal utility company, like an electric cooperative.

Rauch was introduced by Ron Overeem, program chairman. Kiwanis President Eric Kean presided at the meeting.

The Monett Kiwanis Club meets for a program and a meal at noon on Tuesdays, usually at Happy House restaurant.

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