Pawhuska applies for funds to rehab dam

Robert Smith

The Pawhuska City Council, in a special meeting May 21, approved applying to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board for funds to spend on improvements to the Lake Pawhuska dam.

The council voted 4-0, with Councilor Mark Buchanan listening in by telephone but not officially present or participating, to approve the issuance of a promissory note in return for $190,050 of Clean Water project funding from the OWRB. City Attorney John Heskett explained the money is being accounted for on paper, and on the front end of the deal, as a loan, but the city will be forgiven the entire amount as long as it is spent as promised.

In addition to the $190,050, Pawhuska city government is seeking a $100,000 grant from the OWRB to spend on the same project. The city’s initial project-description materials call for an effort valued at about $421,000 to make repairs and improvements to the dam; however, the city council indicated in its discussion last Thursday and in its motion to seek the $190,050 loan/grant that it may re-evaluate the overall project and expand it at some point to include even more repairs and improvements.

Tim Ward, an engineer consulting city government on the project, told councilors Thursday that he thought they probably had some 12 months to make any alterations in the scope of the project. The dam is a clay structure that was completed in 1936. Councilors and Ward indicated that problems with the dam, which is located about three miles west and two miles south of the city, include broken valves and earth sloughing off of it.

On a separate water-related note, the council this month approved a change in the scope of a project that had initially called for the construction of a new, steel, million-gallon elevated water tank at an overall cost of about $1.19 million. Of that total, the plan was for $136,364 to be provided in the form of a grant obtained for Pawhuska by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG). The remainder of the cost would have been borne by the city.

The city has scrapped the idea of building the new, steel, elevated tank and plans have been revised. City government now intends to have the existing 2-million-gallon water reservoir rehabilitated at considerably less cost. The rehabilitation project will still figure in $136,364 of grant money, but the overall cost will be lower, meaning the city intends to spend less.

A cost estimate provided to Pawhuska government by Ward Engineering shows an overall cost of $640,991 for the rehabilitation of the 2-million-gallon reservoir, which is $549, 280 less debt than the city expected to incur before it changed the plan. City officials said Thursday that the state has approved the change in scope of the water-storage project.