WIUM Tristates Public Radio

RUSS Moves Ahead with Lee County Project

Jun 3, 2015

A proposal to build a sewer system in an unincorporated community near Keokuk is moving forward after sitting stagnant for months. The Lee County Board of Supervisors this week authorized Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) to apply for federal funding for the Mooar/Powdertown project.

Bruce Hudson, Executive Director of RUSS, said the organization will initially apply for money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for engineering and design work. He said RUSS will follow up with an application for help in paying for the estimated $1 million project.

"In determining (construction) grants, (the U.S.D.A.) goes off the income of a community. There are two ways of gathering that information," said Hudson. "You can go strictly off of the 2010 Census... (or) what we want to do is we want to go in and look at (each home) individually, (to find out) what does Mooar/
Powdertown qualify for, what is (its) income.  We will then submit that data to USDA and the information is factored into the grant possibility for the project."

Hudson said he is preparing to bring in an independent group to conduct the household study, which he hoped to complete by the end of the month. He said the USDA requires 90% participation, which in this case means at least 38 of 42 available households.

"So this study is as crucial as anything to this project. This is probably the most absolutely most important thing -- and I cannot stress that enough -- to the community of Mooar/Powdertown," said Hudson.

Hudson plans to reach out to a handful of residents to encourage them to encourage their friends and neighbors to participate. Once RUSS finds out how much federal support is available for Mooar/Powdertown, it will meet with residents to determine if they want to proceed.

This is the first significant progress on the Mooar/Powdertown project in months.  RUSS had held several public meetings in the community and unveiled a potential design for the system, but its Board of Directors halted the project just as it was about to apply for federal money.

Three of the ten members of RUSS wanted to leave the organization and so they voted against any future action.  The organization's bylaws allowed for even just one member to halt a project.

The trio have since departed the organization, allowing the remaining members to vote to proceed with the project.

It's hoped that installing a sewer system in the Mooar/Powdertown area will aid in bringing to an end the ongoing pollution of nearby Chatfield Lake.