Mead water project

OLD AND NEW: The new Mead water tower rises in the foreground, as the 106-year-old tower stands in the distance. The new tower should up operational in December, after which the old tower will come down. (Staff Photo by Suzi Nelson)

MEAD – For nearly a decade, the Village of Mead has wrestled with water quality issues, including high levels of arsenic, manganese and iron.

Village Board Chairman Gary Guyle said they began looking at the village’s water system in 2011. A test well was drilled with the hope that it would help combat rising arsenic levels in the existing wells. The plan was to blend the water from the new well with water in the existing well to lower the arsenic. Unfortunately, the new well was high in uranium.

“The test on the test well didn’t turn out so that plan didn’t work,” said Guyle. 

The water project was put on hold when the village had to shift its focus to the wastewater plant, which was going out of compliance, Guyle said. 

“After completing new wastewater lagoons in 2014 we shifted back to the water project,” he said

In 2015, the village board looked at several different options to update the water system. They included connecting to the Wahoo water system or building a treatment plant. 

A public hearing in August 2016 showed the public was not in favor of connecting to Wahoo’s water system. The village board chose to proceed with building a centralized treatment facility with a new well and new water tower.

Two new 12-inch wells were drilled. They are smaller than a usual city well, Guyle said, and will pump 350 gallons per minute, less than the 500 gallons per minute that the village’s current wells pump. The two wells will take turns pumping water.

“We are hoping this will pull less contaminates from the ground and into the water,” said Guyle. “It’s a different approach then what is traditional.” 

Last month, a new water tower, the most visible part of the entire project, was erected. The new water tower will hold 150,000 gallons, more than four times as much as the old tower. The current water tower that was built in 1913 and contains only 35,000 gallons of water. 

“The new tower was built for future growth and adequate storage for fire protection,” said Guyle. 

Flooding that hit the state in March delayed work on the water tower, as contactors had trouble finishing jobs elsewhere, Guyle said. 

The tower should be up and running by middle to late December, Guyle said. The old tower will demolished soon after the new one is in operation.

The project also includes the first water treatment plant to be built in Mead. It will take arsenic, manganese and iron out of the water.

There were delays with the water treatment plant as well, according to Guyle.

“We also had set backs with the treatment pilot study and had to use two different companies,” he said.

The project will go out for bids soon and should be done in 2020, Guyle said.

The village will receive more than $3.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, with $2,425,000 in the form of a 40-year loan at 1.875 percent interest and a 25 percent forgiveness grant in the amount of $877,000. The village will also contribute $185,000.

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