Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chaffee gets $9 million in USDA loans for water, sewer projects

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- The city of Chaffee will be improving its aging water and sewer-system infrastructure through low-interest loans funded by the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development.

The loans, together worth $9 million, will be used to replace existing water mains in the Chaffee water district and for building an up-to-date water treatment facility. The cash also will go toward repairing and treating the city's sewer collection lines and improving the lift station.

Chaffee city administrator Lee Horton said the projects couldn't have come at a better time.

"The water lines we use now haven't been replaced in over 30 years," Horton said. "The water-treatment plant isn't modern by any means. It was built in 1978, and the filtering system it houses is around 30 years old. The sewer lines also have been in need of repair. It's time for something more efficient."

Horton added that plans for the city's water system total $6.2 million from the USDA, with another $2.8 million coming for the sewer lines and lift station. The water system money was awarded last year, while the announcement on the sewer loan was made last month.

"The money we'll receive for the sewers is in addition to what we received in 2011 for the water-system project," he said. "The water project has a head start, but if we're able to get plans for the sewers drawn and have funding in place, we'll want to work concurrently on both projects if we can."

Horton couldn't say for sure when Chaffee would receive the money for the sewer project, but he expects it to be coming soon.

"We've been discussing sewer funding with rural development since June, and we know we've been approved for funding" he said. "The money is on its way."

Schultz Surveying and Engineering of Poplar Bluff, Mo., is in charge of engineering for both projects. Chief engineer Tim Southards said he is wrapping up construction plans for the water system but designs for the sewers and lift station are in the conceptual-design stage.

"The water-system project is the primary focus," Southard said. "But once we're comfortable with what we put together for the sewers and lift station, we'll commit to them accordingly. Plans for either the water or sewer systems have to be approved by rural development and the Department of Natural Resources, and so far there haven't been any red flags. I'm hopeful they and DNR will give their final approval to the water plans by December."

Phyllis Minner, area specialist in Stoddard County's USDA service center, shared Southards' optimism for December approval.

"That sounds about right to me," Minner said. "You can never say for sure, but I think getting approval for the plans by then is possible."

A groundbreaking for the water-system project is anticipated for the spring of 2013. Once started, it is estimated to be completed within 18 months.

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