Posted on: November 22, 2017

QA - Gallery Acres Water Request

Gallery Acres West Location

Gallery Acres (14 homes) has asked the City Council to provide water for their subdivision outside of the City limits. The Utilities Committee has prepared this information to help answer question Solon residents may have.

When was GAW developed?

Gallery Acres West’s Articles of Incorporation and Restrictive Covenants were formalized in 1993.   (Mark Steiger, GAW HOA President)

When did GAW become a public water supply?

In January of 1998 GAW exceeded the threshold (people or homes) and became a Public Water System regulated by the IDNR and EPA, same as any municipality in Iowa regardless of size. (Mark Steiger, GAW HOA President)

What constitutes a public water supply? 

A public water supply system is defined as a system that provides water for human consumption that has at least 15 service connections or serves at least 25 people at least 60 days during the year. There are three types of public water supplies, with the classification determined by the population the system serves:

Community public water supplies (CWS) are those that serve year-round residents. Examples of a CWS include a town, city, subdivision, mobile home park, or unincorporated town.

Non-transient non-community public water supplies (NTNC) are those that regularly serve at least 25 of the same people, four or more hours per day, four or more days per week, for at least six months during the year. Examples of an NTNC include a factory, daycare center, school, or office building.

Transient non-community public water supplies (TNC) are those that serve at least 25 people for at least 60 days during the year. Examples of a TNC include a park, golf course, camp, bar, restaurant, or highway rest area.

How much is the SRF grant GAW was awarded?

The loan is 75% forgivable for eligible portions of the project and is not capped.

What size of water line is Gallery Acres approved for?

GAW is approved for SRF funding up to 8-inch water line.

Who is responsible for any amount not covered by the grant?

GAW is responsible for any amount not covered by the State Revolving Funds (SRF) loan.  (Mark Steiger, GAW HOA President)

Why isn’t Poweshiek Water an option for Gallery Acres?

Poweshiek Water Association’s (PWA) nearest water main is to the west approximately 18 miles, but that line is not large enough to support bringing enough water to the area to serve a large number of homes.  PWA would have to make the connection another 10 miles to the north and west in order to connect to a large enough line.  We would also have to add more than one water tower and pump station and cross I-380.  This is a very cost prohibitive measure.

We looked at a second option which was to make a second connection to the City of Cedar Rapids north of Swisher (our current connection with Cedar Rapids is one mile east and then one mile south of Atkins).  The distance to get to GAW from the connection point is about 11 miles including crossing I-380.  The City of Cedar Rapids only had the capacity to give us enough water to up to 70 homes.  Again, due to the inability to get adequate source water this option is not financially feasible for us or the potential customers. 

The third option is building a treatment facility in the area.  In our experience, if we started today, this would take approximately 5 yrs to complete at best.  We also run the risk of wasting time and capital on drilling wells that may have high levels of arsenic.  We would be in the same dilemma as some of the other HOA’s in the area that are treating for arsenic and will need to find a way to get rid of the effluent high in arsenic.  PWA would have to have an agreement with the City of Solon to treat the effluent in their waste water plant or build a wastewater facility of our own to treat effluent.  In order to make the treating of our own effluent financially feasible we would have to also treat wastewater from HOA’s.  I am not sure financial feasibility would even be attained with adding in HOA’s wastewater systems due to the piping and treatment necessary to get their wastewater to a new potential plant.  Again, not timely or cost effective. 

With our water system serving customers within 2 miles of the city, PWA (and GAW for that matter if they have to become their own water system purchasing water from the City of Solon depending upon how they organize and where their funding comes from) and the city would have to agree as to how the expansion of the city would affect our customer base that is being served by our system but could potentially become part of the city due to future city expansion.  If the city denies PWA the right to serve customers within 2 miles of the city then, by law, the city would have to serve those customers within a specified timeframe. If the city allows PWA to serve those customers then the city can specify upgrades to the piping and appurtenances that would be installed by PWA to meet the city’s specifications.  Those upgrades would be paid by the city at the time of installation.  The reason the city may want to do the upgrade would be for the future annexation of the area, purchasing the area, distribution system and customers with piping and appurtenances already in place meeting city code.  If the city did not want to pay for upgrades to the system when installed then when annexation happens the city purchase the customers, area and distribution system and would upgrade the newly acquired system at their leisure.  PWA has the right to charge, by law, to recoup the outstanding debt per user and the loss of future revenues.  The city would then pass those costs on to those newly acquired customers (or any of their customers) as the city sees fit.  The capital outlay for something like this is not small in most cases.  We have had to do this with the city of Grinnell as it expanded to the south taking up some of our territory and customer base.     

(Chad A. Coburn, Executive Director, Poweshiek Water Association)

Who would own the water main? This is still unknown.

How would this impact my water bill?  The city is not interested in entering into an agreement to provide water to GAW if City of Solon residents’ water bills will increase as a result of serving Gallery Acres West.

*Unless noted otherwise, the city Utilities Committee provided the responses to the questions above.  November 22, 2017

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