Wednesday, February 22, 2017

County Water Association Plans $22 Million in Improvements

The Sequoyah County Water Association is planning on improvements in 2017, but the expected increased cost is turning some customers off.

The Town of Vian is particularly concerned.

Garner Garrison is president of the association’s seven-member board of directors.

Garrison explained the association is planning on building a new water treatment plant at Lake Tenkiller, the association’s water source. He said the present water treatment plant can process 2 million gallons of water per day.

When the association had an engineer do a study on increasing the water supply, the engineer recommended a new plant. The association board then approved a plant that will process 5 million gallons of water per day, and will cost $22 million.

Garrison said, “We are having some trouble getting water to everyone.”

The association has 6,000 residential customers throughout the county and supplies Rural Water District 5 at Gore, the Town of Vian, and some water to Muldrow.

In addition to the new treatment plant, the association is also planning on installing a 24-inch waterline across the county to improve delivery.

But improvements cost money. Garrison said residential customers are paying $35 a month for the first 2,000 gallons now. To help pay for the improvements, the cost will increase to $41 a month for the first 2,000 gallons. The increased rate for residential customers goes into effect March 1.

For Vian, the current water cost is $2.30 per 1,000 gallons. To pay for the improvements the cost will rise $3.20 per 1,000 gallons.

Vian Mayor Dennis Fletcher said he and the Vian Board of Trustees will fight the water rate hike. The increased cost was called “unreasonable.”

“We are trying to keep the water rates as cheap as we can,” Garrison said. He added that the water association has offered to put off Vian’s rate hike until August.

Garrison said the association got an $18,640,000 loan, at an interest rate of 1.875 percent for 40 years, and a grant for $2,987,000 to pay for the improvements. The association’s monthly payment on the loan will be $55,361.

“Until we get that new plant, we can’t add any more customers,” he said.

Bids for the new plant are expected to be called for in the next two months.

He said a study has shown the association has plenty of water from Lake Tenkiller, enough for at least the next 50 years, but the delivery must be paid for.

“If we could have done it a dime cheaper, well, we would have,” he said. “But we are going to have something that everybody can be proud of.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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