New construction will ensure Blair's water supply
by Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

Work is under way to improve the water supply to residents of Blair and southeast Washington County by building a new water tower and rural water system and instituting an emergency backup plan.

Construction of the water tower and distribution system will be overseen by the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District.

The Metropolitan Utilities District and Blair have agreed that M.U.D. will provide water to Blair in an emergency should Blair lose its own water plant.

"It's a pretty good thing that we will be able to help them out," said Tom Wurtz, president of M.U.D.

This is the first such emergency backup contract between M.U.D. and a neighboring community, Wurtz said. Others may be possible as M.U.D. expands its capacity on the western side of the metro area.

Blair and M.U.D. will be connected essentially via two rural water systems run by the Papio-Missouri River NRD. One of those systems already exists, and the other is the system soon to be under construction. A three-mile pipe between these two NRD water systems will have to built to fully connect Blair with M.U.D. Blair and the NRD will pay for that pipe.

The new water system will serve southeast Washington County and will be supplied with water from the new tower. Dick Sklenar, NRD project manager, said a bid to build the water tower is expected to be approved at the district's Aug. 12 board meeting. The apparent low bidder, at $1.38 million, is Landmark Structures of Dallas.

The tower also will serve the community of Blair. Blair will pay 80 percent of the cost and the NRD will pay 20 percent, Sklenar said, with Blair assuming ownership of the tower.

In November, Sklenar said, the NRD expects to let contracts for the pipelines that will serve the new water system. Called the Washington County Rural Water System No. 2, the system is expected to serve 265 properties and be on line by November 2005. Rural residents currently obtain water from domestic wells.

Also on Aug. 12, the NRD board will hold a hearing on the service boundaries for the new water system.

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