By John Van Nostrand, CNA Managing Editor
Early steps for S
outhern Iowa Rural Water’s own water treatment plant highlighted the organization’s annual meeting held Monday at Creston Community High School.
General Manager Dan McIntosh said the bid process begins July 29 for what is expected to be a project valued at more than $50 million. Depending upon the construction schedule, the plant is expected to be operational in December 2023. As part of the plant project, SIRWA will also add additional distribution lines and a 1 million gallon water tower.
SIRWA has been buying water from Creston’s water treatment plant at Twelve Mile Lake for its customers. McIntosh said 85% of SIRWA’s water is from Creston Water Works. Creston Water Works owns the water rights to Twelve Mile Lake while SIRWA owns the water rights to Three Mile Lake.
The treatment plant was determined after SIRWA’s growth using Creston City Water Works operations. Creston and SIRWA had contractual agreements SIRWA using Creston’s water treatment plant at 12 Mile Lake and paying percentage wise how much water was used.
SIRWA’s customer growth outpaced Creston’s. Both entities agreed SIRWA would pay for a percentage of maintenance of plant use but as SIRWA’s customers grew in numbers, so did its expenses at the plant. SIRWA was paying about 75% of the plant operation, which influenced the idea to have its own water treatment plant. The SIRWA board decided last year to build its own water treatment plant.
“It will be great for Southwest Iowa,” McIntosh said about the project.
SIRWA is working with Creston Water Works on a water purchase agreement until SIRWA’s water treatment plant is operational. Additional agreements are being discussed to share water sources and each entity supply each other finished water during emergencies or maintenance.
McIntosh also said land needed for the Clarke County Reservoir Commission has been acquired. Engineers are updating designs since initial cost estimates are more than originally planned. Construction is expected to take three years.
Areas included in SIRWA’s service are unincorporated areas of Adair, Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Ringgold, Taylor, and Union along with portions of Cass, Guthrie, Lucas, Madison, Montgomery, Page and Warren counties.
McIntosh said SIRWA had 11,331 total water customers in 2020, an increase of 194 the prior year. Of that amount, 8,490 customers are considered rural. That is an increase of 113. Customers classified as city were 2,834, a growth of 82.
Last year SIRWA used 1.2 billion gallons of water, an increase of about 25 million gallons from the previous year. SIRWA’s net position in 2020 was $85.4 million, a decrease of $6.9 million from 2019.
SIRWA members in attendance re-elected board members whose terms had expired. They were Marlin Marckman, representing Adair, Audubon, Cass, Guthrie and Madison counties; John Walston, Taylor and Page counties; Chad Malmanger, Union County; Tony Mullen, Adams and Montgomery counties; Anne Welker, Clarke, Lucas and Warren counties; Joan Jackson, Ringgold County.
Kevin Wynn was given the Friend of Rural Water Award for his contribution and support to the organization. He lives in Adams County.
Members also approved a bylaw change allowing meetings to be held electronically when in-person meetings are not possible. An annual meeting for SIRWA was not held last year because of COVID.