City of Climax asks Polk County for funds for water project

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    The City of Climax recently submitted a request for American Relief Program funds from Polk County for their long-term water supply project which would provide safer drinking water to residents through a partnership and pipeline from North Dakota’s East Central Regional Water District. ECRWD System Manager Neil Breidenbach along with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc. (AE2S) Sarah Sesselman approached the Polk County Board of Commissioners first at their October 26 meeting and again at the November 2 meeting, the second time accompanied by mayors and leaders from Climax, Nielsville, and Halstad who showed their support for the project.

    The water project would entail running a pipeline from ECRWD’s Reservoir 1, which is located between Buxton, N.D. and Climax, to the City of Climax using, ideally, a 12” pipe to allow for better water flow. Other potential pipeline additions could include the City of Nielsville and then, down Highway 75, a connection to Shelly and Halstad with yet another pipeline coming across from ECRWD’s Hillsboro, N.D. Water Treatment Plant and connecting to Halstad. The Halstad pipeline could then continue on to Hendrum, Perley and Georgetown should both Norman and Clay counties jump on the project.

    On a map provided to the County Board by AE2S, it shows where the company went out and tested water for arsenic levels and dots represented locations where the arsenic levels exceeded the MCL (maximum contaminant level) which is 10 parts per billion. Sesselman said a “good chunk” of samples, including locations in the cities of Climax, Nielsville, Shelly and rural populations, came back with higher levels of arsenic in its water.

    Both Climax and Nielsville leaders told the board their aging towns need attention and their water towers need replacing, and Nielsville Mayor David Vraa added there was “no way” his town could afford to put up another water tower.

    County Administrator Chuck Whiting told their group later that the county needed more time to make decisions on where the ARP funds would go as they technically have until 2024 to have them committed though he didn’t see any reason to wait until then. He added that they would have discussions about the timelines and the commitment of those funds may tie into their upcoming budget timeline.

    “It’s pretty impressive,” said Whiting. “You don’t usually have people show up and say they have a project and a plan to start.”

COSTS

    As far as water pipeline project costs go, from ECRWD’s Reservoir 1 to the City of Climax only, the estimated total cost is $1,935,679. Sesselman says the City of Climax would incorporate their 40-year USDA loan into their estimated local share which has annual principal and interest built in to the totals she provided the board.

    From Climax to Nielsville it would be an estimated total of $1,068,709 and from Nielsville to Shelly it’s an estimated total of $1,077,341 with Polk and Norman counties most likely splitting that cost.

    For the Climax only option, the fund request from Polk County and its ARPA money would be $1,451,759 with the estimated local share being $483,920 or an estimated monthly cost of $10 per account on the resident’s water bill. The beneficiary population for the Climax only water project is 266, not counting rural residents. Should the option to extend to Nielsville get added, the ARPA fund request for Nielsville would be $544,452 and estimated local share would be $184,484. The total for the water supply project for both Climax and Nielsville with the ARPA cost share request from Polk County and estimated local shares equal $2,661,615.

    To add rural residents into the equation, which is almost five times the beneficiary population of the cities of Climax and Nielsville, the total project would cost approximately $3,943,588 with $2.9 million requested from Polk County ARPA funds but the estimated monthly cost per account from residents would be considerably lower at $5 per month on resident’s water bills creating the lowest probable monthly capital cost for Climax and Nielsville users using the transmission pipeline only.

    Should ECRWD provide service to the mentioned cities along Highway 75 and transmission in place for all potential rural beneficiaries with proposed rural water district boundaries, plus, with the estimate for rural distribution capital costs, there would be a total of $63,935,646 in capital cost and means plus the project would provide long-term, safe and reliable water service to 5,328 rural Minnesotans.

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