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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Wholesale Water District Plans Moving Forward For Mitchell County

Representatives from the City of Beloit, the Mitchell County Rural Water Districts, Schwab-Eaton and EBH Engineers gathered in Beloit on Friday morning to continue discussions of a consolidated water plant and formation of a public wholesale district.

The group started by discussing what the water needs are in total for all the entities to determine the size of the plant needed to supply them. It was suggested that a plant which handles up to 2.5 million gallons per day would be needed to cover expected maximum requirements for water usage.

Schwab-Eaton’s Stuart Porter said it would be sufficient, but it should be expandable in case of increased future needs. It is estimated that Beloit typically has a max usage of 1.5 million gallons per day and another 800,000 gallons per day max for MC 2 and MC 3 combined.

Based upon a seven-year average, Beloit uses 191 million gallons of water per year. MC 2 averaged 123 million gallons per year, and MC 3 came in at 83 million gallons per year.

Concerns were also expressed about the ability of Waconda Lake to adequately supply the proposed new plant and the entities it would service from the east side of the dam. Porter said there are water rights in place which allow access to 2,000 acre-feet of water. He said this is more than enough to supply the needs of a consolidated wholesale district.

Beloit currently has a water softening facility in its existing plant, and they want to continue to have that feature in a new plant. The rural water districts do not currently have this feature and were not necessarily interested in it for the future.

However, all water would go through the softening process if the new plant had the feature in its system. It was clarified that any associated costs with the softening feature will be the City of Beloit’s responsibility in the shared liability agreement.

Based on the average usages, broken down by percentage, Beloit’s cost share would be about 48 percent, 31 percent for MC 2 and about 21 percent for MC 3.

Estimates for actual costs associated with building a new plant adjacent to the existing plant at Glen Elder cannot be known for sure due to several factors including available grant funding and interest rates. Schwab-Eaton is putting together estimates for the project with no expected grant funding, partial grant funding and full funding.

Costs to the end user will not be clearly known until the process is much closer to becoming reality. There will be increases in the end consumer rates, but the increase is the cost of modernization to provide a significantly higher quality and healthier product.

It was noted that grant funding tends to be more readily available for regionalization projects such as this. Based on all contributing factors, the maximum grant USDA Rural Development would provide is estimated at 45 percent. It was suggested that estimates base it at 30 percent to be conservative.

Other grant monies from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Community Development Block Grants would also potentially be available. Revolving loan programs could also be an additional funding mechanism. Revolving loans come through the state via federal money which is paid back to the feds with interest through the state.

Depending upon the availability of funding mechanisms, the new plant could potentially be built in phases over time in order to take advantage of those funding mechanisms from year to year. As of Friday, the City of Beloit as well as MC 2 and MC 3 have all signed agreements to move the process forward and create the public wholesale water district.

It was estimated at the meeting that the new plant could be a three to four-year process to completion.

Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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