May 18, 2006

Five-Year Water Plan for Memphis Headed To DNR For Approval

An aggressive plan to reshape the City of Memphis’s underground water supply lines is headed to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for consideration.

The Memphis City Council gave its stamp of approval to the five-year plan that is now headed to Jefferson City for DNR approval.

The proposal, created by All-State Engineering with the cooperation of the city water department, calls for the replacement of several sections of old four-inch wide cast iron water service lines.

The #1 priority on the list is the water supply line serving the residential areas on Clay Street (Highway 15) north of Missouri Street all the way to Lovers Lane.

The plan calls for abandoning the line that currently runs under Highway 15. Houses on the west side of the street will have new one-inch service lines connected to the main on Cecil Street while households on the east side will have similar new service lines connected to the Main Street water main.

“That’s obviously our top priority,” stated Superintendent Dennis Howard. “There was one stretch last year where we had 22 water breaks in a 10-day period in that stretch of the service line, so we need to get rid of the problem.”

Alderman Lucas Remley concurred, noting that every time that line had a leak the city was forced to spend $150 to $300 on patchwork fixes.

The second major project area on the 5-year plan is south of the city square where another region of old cast iron pipe will be replaced with new six-inch plastic pipe.

Finally the plan calls for similar work on Madison Street starting in the Sanders and Watkins streets region all the way east to the city limits.

Based on prevailing wage rates and other assumed costs, All-States estimated the project cost at $1.4 million. Howard estimated the cost would likely be half that amount if city crews did the bulk of the work.

The council discussed various funding options with representatives from All-States, varying from a bond issue to state and federal loan programs. The engineers indicated that the city would not be eligible for grant funding because the city’s water rates are too cheap. They indicated the standard for grant funding requires municipal water rates be the equivalent of two-percent of the median household income, a level the city falls below with its current rate structure.

The council voted to send the plan to DNR for approval and to pursue funding options at a later meeting.

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