THE SPRINGS HAVE DRIED UP... NOW WHAT?
It’s certainly no secret that the State of Utah is in a drought! This winter may have brought a great snowpack and moisture, but we are still not out of the woods; it will possibly take years of good winters to replenish many of our water sources. Last year was the driest year in decades and it took its toll on many of our springs. Such was the case with the Town of Bicknell, whose culinary springs literally dried up!
With only one well in town to provide the citizens with drinking water, Mayor Noreen Johnson, the town council, and system operator found themselves in a panic. Curtis Ludvigson, the Development Specialist for the Rural Water Association of Utah, heard of the situation and made a trip to Bicknell to see how he could help. The Mayor and the System Operator met with him first. They stressed the importance of finding a solution to the issue and asked for some assistance in the process.
Curtis used his background and expertise to advise them in the process of funding, engineer selection, project planning, budgeting, rate setting, etc. He brought up a program called “Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant” (ECWAG). This program, available through USDA Rural Development, was likely the best approach for this problem. ECWAG would allow them to acquire the funds needed to redevelop or drill wells to replace the springs. Mayor Johnson requested advice for selecting an engineer. Curtis was able to explain the process of sending out a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) and helped them prepare one.
Curtis could sense the urgency of the situation after leaving that meeting. Within a couple of days, he had the RFP prepared and delivered to the town. They, in turn, sent the RFP out to several engineering firms, which included Rural Water Associate Members who are engineers, and waited for their responses.
Curtis met with the Bicknell Town Council and explained to them what he had explained to the Mayor and Operator; realizing that the Council would actually be the ones who would make decisions as how to proceed. In these meetings, he also explained the Median Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) and the Median Household Income (MHI) which are income guidelines that the funding agencies go by in order to determine qualifications for “grant” monies. Curtis examined the town’s budget and rates, explaining that even though the town qualifies for some grant money, they should address making some rate increases in order to help them in their overall budget. Eventually, the engineering firms had all sent in their proposals and the Town was ready to make a selection. It was not easy for them to select, since the proposals were all of high quality, but the Council made the decision and chose a firm. With that behind them, Curtis explained the remaining steps in the process, which should result in getting the projects of springs being redeveloped or wells drilled.
The Town has made application to Rural Development for the ECWAG money, hoping to receive up to $1,000,000 for spring redevelopment.
Below are 6 steps to follow if you are in a similar position. There are a lot of details that go along with each one of these steps. If you find that you need to do a project on your system, give Curtis a call and let him help you through the entire process; you’ll be glad you did!