City, Osage Nation to help water district

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska city government and the Osage Nation have combined forces to provide assistance to a local rural water district.

Interim City Manager Tonya Bright said last week that an agreement would need to be developed between Pawhuska city government and Osage County Rural Water District No. 21, specifying responsibilities. The Osage Nation Congress, in a special session March 11, approved a $74,000 grant to the Pawhuska Public Works Authority in support of the effort to help the water district.

The Osage Nation Congress specified the money could be spent on facility improvements, water treatment equipment, installation costs and maintenance costs. Twelve Osage legislators who participated in the special session voted unanimously to support the appropriation. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed off on the measure the same day that it passed the tribal Congress.

The Pawhuska City Council had also voted to move forward with the effort to assist Rural Water District No. 21, which is based in Shidler. The councilors received information and recommendations from engineer Tim Ward, who said a booster pump station would be an element of the needed improvements. Ward anticipated that the water district would bear the cost of electricity service for the booster pump station.

At-Large City Councilor Steve Tolson asked if the project would result in zero cost for Pawhuska city government, and City Attorney John Heskett replied that was the hoped-for result. Heskett said councilors could reconvene in a special meeting to approve a contract for the project.

Jill Gray, president of Osage County Rural Water District No. 21, confirmed the water district and Pawhuska city government were “currently working on an agreement that would supply emergency water to our members that live on the eastern edge of the district.”

“This agreement would help alleviate the loss of water that our members experienced during the recent winter storm,” Gray said, referring to the two weeks of stormy, subfreezing weather the area experienced in February.

Gray said the water district “appreciates the partnership with the city of Pawhuska and Osage Nation.”

“Without the caring nature and generous donation from Osage Nation, this endeavor would not have been able to take place,” Gray said.