An agreement has been finalized for Southern Iowa Rural Water Association to build its own water treatment plant at Three Mile Lake.
The $54 million in financing for the new plant will come from USDA Rural Development. This will include the treatment plant, infrastructure to connect to the current water distribution system and upgrade to the pumps currently at Three Mile Lake. The plant is expected to be operational in 2024.
SIRWA has been buying water from Creston’s water treatment plant at Twelve Mile Lake to deliver in its water distribution system since 1983. In exchange for SIRWA’s financial contributions to improvements and capital projects at the plant over the years, the Creston plant sells finished water to SIRWA at a reduced rate that is tied to the cost of production.
Creston Water Works owns the water rights to Twelve Mile Lake while SIRWA owns the water rights to Three Mile Lake. Creston and SIRWA have worked together over the years to use both water sources to serve the citizens of Southwest Iowa.
SIRWA’s water needs have increased over the years, from originally requiring and holding 25% of the Creston water treatment plant’s capacity up to 76% — just over six million gallons per day. The board decided it is appropriate to build its own water treatment plant to serve its rural customers and communities in 11 counties.
After extensive negotiations stretching back more than two years, SIRWA and Creston Water Works have reached an agreement on how to handle the transition.
“The primary focus for both entities is on ensuring as little impact as possible for customers of both SIRWA and CCWW (Creston City Water Works),” said a statement released by SIRWA. “At this time, it is anticipated that SIRWA will eventually do approximately two minimal, graduated rate increases in the next few years.”
Creston does not have any planned rate increases other than those due inflation.
SIRWA’s general manager Dan McIntosh and Creston Water Works’ general manager Steve Guthrie agree that having the two plants operational will be a benefit to both companies. McIntosh cited the boil orders that have been necessary in the last few years, saying that with two plants, if one has a problem, the other can assist.
“Ultimately, having two water treatment plants, two water distribution systems, and two water sources will be excellent for the city and SIRWA,” McIntosh said.
The two parties are still working out the terms for interconnecting both raw and finished water systems to make assisting one another possible.