Grant would help Pawhuska redo water tank

Robert Smith | rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Interim City Manager Larry Eulert says a grant application the city is planning to submit through INCOG is a first step in beginning to address water-system needs.

Eulert told city councilors earlier this month that the grant application will be due in May. He said that he didn’t know yet what sort of funding match Pawhuska city government might have to put forward to help pay for the project. The grant would pay to refurbish the city’s 2-million-gallon water tank, he said.

In a followup interview with the Pawhuska Journal-Capital, Eulert said he understands the grant amount could be as much as $400,000 if the city receives the maximum amount. While the matching-fund ratio hasn’t been established, it could be as favorable as 90/10, with the city putting up 10 percent of the total project cost, he said.

“That is just a Band-Aid on a much larger problem,” Eulert said, explaining that Pawhuska’s water system would benefit considerably from multiple improvements over the longer term.

For now, refurbishing the 2-million-gallon tank would be an improvement, he said, but eventually it would be better if the city were to have two 750,000-gallon tanks instead. Such an arrangement would make it easier for the city to manage water levels and water quality in its primary water tank, and it would also build flexibility into the system by providing a backup tank, he said.

Maintaining the right amount of water in the existing 2-million-gallon tank is “a real balancing act,” Eulert said. The concern is to have enough treated water in supply for public use, but not so much water that it loses its residual chlorination while waiting to be consumed.

The state Department of Environmental Quality mandates regular testing of the city’s water supply, he said. Regulators are looking for data on residual chlorination, as well as suspended particles that could be harmful.

“They’re looking for a lot of things,” Eulert said.

Additional upgrades to the city’s water system that it would be helpful to pursue in coming years include a 12-inch-diameter line from Bluestem Lake to Pawhuska’s water-processing plant, and an update of the plant itself, he said.

“It just takes money, that’s all,” Eulert said. “Unfortunately, a lot of it.”

In other recent business, the Pawhuska City Council authorized the City Manager’s office to change the residency requirement for municipal employees from a limit of 10 miles outside the city to a 30-minute response time.

The council also approved some $24,000 of repairs to the city’s swimming pools, and set license fees for businesses such as groceries and convenience stores for which it will be legal to begin selling wine and high-point beer in October.

The council set the wine license fee at $1,000 and the high-point beer license fee at $500 for the businesses to be participating under the new law that goes into effect Oct. 1.

Look for more details on these matters at www.pawhuskajournalcapital.com