water in osceola In the Osceola Water Board of Trustees April meeting, the board heard from Water Superintendent, Brandon Patterson, about the latest updates on the drought and subsequent water shortage facing the community. Specifically, Patterson proposed a 3-stage plan for approval, and to set goals for short-, intermediate-, and long-term solutions to an alternative water source or sources for the community. These sources will focus on mitigating possible future drought impacts on customers as well as help improve the future of water availability and sustainability throughout the region.

“We really had to look at every viable resource out there,” said Patterson. “After lots of discussions with regional water operators, local and state government organizations, testing, and consulting with our engineers, we believe this plan is the best path to securing water for the community.”

Short-Term Water Plan: Source Water from the Quarry North of Osceola’s West Lake.

This plan, while likely temporary, would be attainable within the next 30 to 90 days. Engineers have completed a preliminary raw water investigation of the quarry and estimate the water available to be in excess of 70,000,000 gallons.

Osceola Water Works’ investment in pumping the water from the quarry would include acquisition of an industrial pump and several thousand feet of hose to reach West Lake. During the board meeting, Jeff Rice, Co – General Manager from Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) said that the industrial pump necessary for the transfer of water could be loaned from SIRWA at no-cost, to Osceola Water Works to help with the efforts.

“The partnership with Osceola Water Works is extremely important to SIRWA to adequately serve our customers in Clarke County,” said Rice. “SIRWA has a good standing relationship with Osceola Water Works, and we want to be able to help in anyway we can. Offering the use of one of our pumps is one way we are able to offer assistance.”

Patterson stated he is working out the final details with regulatory officials regarding transferring the water from the quarry. Osceola Water Works is hopeful that they can pump water from the quarry this spring and then, depending on the timing when the quarry supply replenishes, pump again this fall.

Discussions of using the quarry beyond the preliminary raw water investigation are ongoing with the property owners and final details have not been finalized.

After breaking ground in December of 2021, in January of 2024, SIRWA went online with their own water treatment plant. After weeks of testing and operational refinements, they were able to reduce their draw of water from Osceola Water Works that typically is used to serve Clarke County and switch to their own raw water source at 3 Mile Lake. This change reduced the daily demand on West Lake by approximately 350,000 gallons per day (GPD). Unfortunately, the current infrastructure on the east side of Osceola isn’t adequate to allow for SIRWA to continue serving the eastern Clarke County meter location during the high-demand summer months.
The Osceola Water Works team and SIRWA have worked out a plan where the necessary infrastructure updates and connectivity will be implemented to assure the eastern part of Clarke County can continue being served by the 3-mile, even in the summer months. The updates include installing approximately a half mile of 8” water main and necessary fittings to the front side of the water tower east of Osceola. The costs associated with this update are approximately $100,000. The total project cost will be split between the two utilities.

“Serving the eastern Clarke meter from our 3-mile source is not a long-term solution, as it limits growth in other parts of the SIRWA system,” said Brenda Stanley Co – Manger of SIRWA. “But installation of this half mile of piping will allow us to continue serving as much of the Clarke County area during this period of drought with the water from our 3-mile source, offering as much reprieve to Osceola as possible.”

“Given the strain this prolonged drought has put on our water supply, it is imperative we partner with SIRWA,” said Patterson. “This system update will also allow SIRWA to supply water back into our eastern distribution system in emergencies. This is just the start of a cooperative effort being taken between Osceola Water Works and SIRWA.”

Intermediate-Term Water Plan: Partnership with Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) to identify and development distribution system interconnections.

Osceola Water Works and SIRWA have agreed to direct each entity’s engineering teams to work towards a collaborative effort defining ways the two utilities distribution systems can function to assist each other in times of need.

“My goal is for Osceola to have a distribution system that allows for SIRWA and Osceola Water to assist each other in time of need.” said Patterson. “Our ultimate goal as utilities is to provide safe potable water to our customers, and working to network our systems together will help prevent future disruptions and outages.”

The need for additional storage, larger piping, and pump station updates has been identified. The goal is to complete an engineering assessment, identify system updates, and work towards project implementation. Both utilities plan to work with the State on ways these projects could be funded and have targeted a project completion timeline of two years.

The addition of distribution systems interconnections, will also be useful and necessary to supply the growth of both of Osceola and SIRWA.

The City of Osceola continues to pursue greywater reuse as an additional option to supply water to West Lake.

Long-Term Water Plan: Clarke County Reservoir.

Based off of future water needs, Osceola Water Works and SIRWA remain committed to the construction of a reservoir in Clarke County. Working through the state and federal guidelines has made this a long process, with a lot of unforeseen obstacles. But after recent conversations between NRCS and other state-level organizations, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“SIRWA sees its highest number of new annual service connections in Clarke County.” said Rice. “Without an additional water supply reservoir, our ability to continue serving the water demand in the Clarke County service area is a big concern.”

“Our community is growing, and our community deserves a safe supply of water. Bottom line is we have to have an additional supply,” said Patterson.

The start of construction on the dam and reservoir base is projected to begin in May of 2027 with a target completion date of December 2029.

Patterson’s presentation to the Water Board brought more than 18-months of research and coordination by the Water Works team to a focus. With Water Board approval, given during the same meeting, the actions necessary to address the water shortage in Osceola will proceed. From there, the Water Works team will work with local and state organizations to acquire grants and funding to make these efforts a reality. The recent $75,000 grant from CCDC will go a long way to help with immediate plans at the quarry, and with SIRWA’s partnership, much of the workload on the intermediate plan has been lightened.

“We know this has been a long haul and citizens are concerned about water in Osceola,” said Alisha Kale, Osceola Water Board President. “This plan offers a checklist and timeline we can all follow to help secure water for our future.”

If you have questions or would like additional information about the plans discussed in Thursday Night’s Water Board meeting, meeting minutes will be available at www.osceolawaterworks.com. You can also reach out to the Osceola Water Works team at 208 West Jefferson Street, PO Box 515, Osceola, Iowa 50213, phone: 641-342-1435 or email: [email protected]

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