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December 11, 2003

New Washington County water system to solve several problems
by Todd Van Kampen, Omaha World-Herald

Blair will gain a new water tower and the means to get emergency water from Omaha when the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District builds a rural water system next fall.

That's part of a new agreement between the NRD, the City of Blair and Washington County. It also calls for building the system large enough to serve future residents in 20 square miles south of Blair and west of Fort Calhoun.

The Blair City Council, the Washington County Board and a Papio NRD subcommittee approved the deal Tuesday, said Dick Sklenar, the NRD's special projects coordinator. The full NRD board will vote tonight.

City and county officials said they had a chance to solve several water problems by joining in the $3.4 million system.

Blair will supply the water, which will be stored in a 1 million-gallon tower.

The city will tap water revenues for 80 percent of the tower's $1.6 million cost, Sklenar said. The NRD will pay 20 percent.

Blair and Washington Countywill lend a combined $555,000 so the NRD can build larger water mains than currently needed.

Blair's $355,000 share would let it get emergency residential water from Metropolitan Utilities District's Florence plant.

Washington County's $200,000 loan will ensure that the new NRD system can serve rural homes yet to be built, he said.

(Note: HGM Associates, 5022 S. 114th St., Omaha, NE is the consulting firm for the project.)

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