Terrytown Water Project update

Published: Dec. 11, 2018 at 8:09 PM CST
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The budget for Terrytown’s water project is more than they expected. After consulting with state funding sources, they have committed to an additional $156,000 for phases 2 &3. That cost will be covered over the course of the project by additional grants, or the residents of Terrytown will see an increase in their future water bills.

A few years back, one Terrytown’s wells started registering high levels of arsenic. They shut the well down, but they couldn’t keep running without a stable source of water. Terrytown officials began a survey to see what they could do to supply residents with safe water.

A survey revealed that they could connect to a nearby town, replace old pipes, install water meters, and refurbish the old Terrytown water tower for fire suppression and water storage needs. Those measures have become Phase 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Terrytown water project.

To complete these measures, the city has taken out loans as well as accepting funding from a Community Development Block Grant through the Department of Economic Development, State Revolving Fund through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and EPA, and USDA Rural Development.

Delays led to a longer timeline than supposed. Three year old funding estimates from a Preliminary Engineering Report failed to predict and cover the modern day costs.

“Through a few delays in the project timeline and based upon the completion of Phase 1 and bids for Phases 2 and 3 are looking at a total project cost overrun, based on 2015 estimates, of approximately 5%.” says Michael Olsen, PE of M.C. Schaff & Associates, Inc.

One third of the funding comes from grants, Two-thirds of funding for the water project comes from loans. Those loans will be paid back through water bills.

Phase one is complete, and Terrytown is now hooked up to Gering’s water supply. Phases 2&3 will focus on replacing old water pipes, and installing water meters on homes and businesses.

Once the meters are in place, residents will see a change in water bills. They currently pay a flat-rate for water, and that will change with the new development. The new metered bills will charge a base water rate, and then charge by the gallon for any water usage over a set standard.

For three months after phase 2&3 are complete, water bills will stay the flat-rate, and will also include a view of what their expenses for that month would be based on the new system. After the grace period, hopefully residents and businesses will have had enough time to adjust their water usage accordingly, and the new billing system will be in place.

If the town government doesn’t secure additional grant moneys to supplement the overages for the Phase 2 & phase 3 budgets, residents will see those additional costs in the base rates of their bill.

Olsen says there’s nothing to worry about, the $156,000 will come out to $2 a year per household, or 16cents a bill.

Phase four of the project is tentative. With Phase 2&3 just getting under way, Terrytown officials are waiting to see what Phase 4 might look like. According to City Engineer Jeff Wolfe, the project might go ahead as planned.

The total cost of the project was set for $3,174,944.50. The fourth phase of the water development project is set at $51,450.00, the cost for remodeling the water tower would only be .01% of the multi-million dollar project.

The water tower is useful for water storage, and for fire flow. However, the supply from Gering is ample enough to cover the needs of Terrytown. Some would argue that it never hurts to be safe, and some would say that the unnecessary cost is too much.

Wolfe says that no decisions have been made yet, but that the town is considering many options. Phase 4 may go ahead as planned, which will add to the final cost of the project. The tower may be left as-is but to function in a limited capacity, with the thought of decommissioning in the future. Or, the tower may be decommissioned and torn down, which would cost a hefty sum as well.

According to Lonnie Miller, Terrytown City Administrator and Treasurer, Wolfe and Olson are 90+ percent sure that the extra funding will come through from the state.

As it stands, the project is proceeding with Phases 2&3 on an approved budget, and Phase 4 is tentative, but looking good.

You can expect bi-weekly updates about the Terrytown water project on their website: