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Sometimes good news is worth waiting for.
It was worth at least $35,000 to the Henrietta Board of Aldermen last week when city officials from Henrietta and Richmond finally sat down with representatives from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The meeting came almost two weeks after officials from DNR failed to show up for a meeting. DNR officials told Henrietta City Clerk Margie Long that a misunderstanding in scheduling was the reason for the mistake.
The meeting between the two cities and DNR answered some important questions for the small cash-strapped city with a Dec. 31 DNR deadline looming.
The agency had ordered the city to clean out and repaint the city’s water tower to the tune of about $35,000. The deadline became even more tight with cold weather on the way. Contractors cannot paint in cold temperatures, so therefore any work would have to wait until spring.
The other big problem is funding. With only about six weeks left in the calendar and budget year for the city, there is no real cash on hand to pay for any repairs, cleaning or painting.
Henrietta city officials came up with a plan, with the help of Richmond, last month to begin buying water directly from Richmond instead of producing water locally for consumption.
Henrietta sought to bypass the water tower and go straight from Richmond; however, DNR backed off of the deadline until next spring according to Long. This was welcomed news to the aldermen.
“We were concerned that maybe they would shut it down and have to run directly from Richmond,” said Alderman Randy Russell.
The concern is that if the Richmond plant were to shut down for an emergency Henrietta would be without water, and without a tower to use as backup.
What is not clear, however, is when Richmond will officially begin water service. Alderman Bob Duncan, who also works in the public works department for Richmond, said about $30,000 to $40,000 of upgrades needs to be done before service can begin.
“It’s not just automatic and you turn the valve on,” Duncan said.
Long said Mid America Regional Council Grant Writer Molly McGovern would be filing paperwork for grants to complete the work.
Upgrades would include new meters, pressure valves and a pit.
The city will not completely shut down the water plant but it will be completely disconnected from the water tower and the city water system. Long said once the city is hooked onto Richmond, it cannot ever hook the water plant back onto the system. However, the city will still sell water to farmers or railroad water trucks.
“It makes no sense to sell water we’re buying,” Russell said.