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Lee County Signs Sewer Agreement

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Lee County has decided to help one of its unincorporated communities with a proposed sewer project.

The Board of Supervisors has entered into a new 28-E agreement with Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS). 

RUSS is an organization based in Mount Pleasant that helps rural communities secure state and/or federal money for sewer projects.

Supervisor Ernie Schiller says this agreement will allow RUSS to start the preliminary engineering work for a potential sanitary sewer system in the Mooar/Powdertown area north of Keokuk.

He says this phase of the project will determine the scope of the project, offer potential operational methods, project construction costs and estimate monthly sewer bills.

Schiller says the residents of Mooar/Powdertown will be able to use the information collected to decide if they want to build a sanitary sewer system or go another route to address environmental issues.

He says RUSS needed the agreement to insure that it is covered for its work.  He says the agreement states that Lee County will pay for the preliminary engineering work if the residents of Mooar/Powdertown do not want a full system.

The preliminary engineering work would be factored into the construction costs if the project proceeds.

The agreement also states that if the sewer system is completed, RUSS would own and operate it.


Lee County may be helping Mooar/Powdertown get into the sewer business, but the county wants to get itself out of the business.

Fort Madison is extending its sewer system to the southeast, along Highway 61, towards a small group of industries that include Siemens Wind Generation and Pinnacle Foods.

The federal Economic Development Administration will pay for half of the project, which carries a roughly $3-million price tag.

The supervisors have now come out in favor of connecting to the new sewer line.

Supervisor Larry Kruse says this will allow the county to be able to stop maintaining its own system at the jail.

He says he will also approach the oversight board for the neighboring juvenile detention center to see if that facility also wants to connect.

City Manager Byron Smith says Fort Madison will have to extend the sewer line a bit more than originally proposed to accommodate the addition of the jail.

He says design work can now be completed based on the consensus of the supervisors.  A formal vote is expected this week.

The county’s maintenance department estimates that it would cost about $140,000 to connect.

Construction is expected to get underway early next year.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.